How often should you water indoor plants?

How often should you water indoor plants so they thrive? This is the lowdown

How often should you water indoor plants – Lady watering house plants
(Image credit: Getty Images / Carol Yepes)

How often should you water indoor plants to provide the best conditions? Not giving them enough water is something you don’t want to do, of course, but overwatering can be equally bad.

Different factors influence how often you should water houseplants, but there are some general rules that will make the task of caring for the best indoor plants a whole lot easier. 

Our guide has what you need to know about how often you should water indoor plants, along with specific guidelines for some of the most popular houseplant options.

How often should you water indoor plants?

There’s no single answer to the question how often should you water indoor plants. ‘Watering indoor plants is an art, just as much as it is a science,’ explains horticulturist Charlotte Bailey of Oh So Garden (opens in new tab). ‘How often you need to water your plants depends on a few crucial factors, including the type of plant, the climate you’re in, as well as light and temperature levels.’

However, that doesn’t mean you need be in the dark about the task. ‘For indoor plants, the general rule of thumb is to water them thoroughly once a week,’ says Charlotte.

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How to check if indoor plants need watering

Taking a look can help you decide whether an indoor plant needs watering. ‘For most plants, the worst thing you can do is overwater them,’ says Toby Schulz, CEO of Lawn.com.au (opens in new tab), which provides advice for indoor as well as outdoor plants. ‘Most of the time, a simple visual check of how dark the soil looks can tell you whether your plant needs its weekly watering, or if it can wait another week.’

Feeling the soil will also provide the information you need. ‘If the top 1 to 2in (2.5 to 5cm) of soil are dry to the touch, it’s time to water,’ says Charlotte Bailey. ‘If it’s still moist, wait another day or two before checking again. If the leaves are drooping or turning yellow, that’s another huge telltale sign that the plant is stressed and needs more water.’

Which factors influence how often indoor plants need watering?

Different types of plants have different requirements when it comes to watering. ‘Set yourself up for success with your new houseplant by looking up the care instructions,’ says Toby Schulz. ‘Some plants are quite high maintenance when it comes to watering (peace lilies) whereas others are extremely low maintenance (Zanzibar gems).’ 

But there are other factors that will influence how often you should water indoor plants, including the soil, the light, and temperature and humidity.

‘If your plants are bedded in a well-draining mix that contain elements such as perlite or pumice, you’ll need to check your soil’s moisture levels more frequently than if your plants are housed in a plain, but denser, all-purpose compost,’ explains Charlotte Bailey. ‘As the name suggests, well-draining mixes tend to quick drying soil.’

The conditions are all important. ‘Is your plant in a bright location with high temperatures?’ asks Charlotte. ‘Thanks to higher levels of transpiration, it will need watering more often than a plant placed in a low-light location.’

How often should you water different types of indoor plants?

Whether you’re thinking of investing in the best winter house plants, pet-friendly house plants, or have other criteria, it’s always important to understand the specific requirements of the plant. These are some favorite indoor plants and their needs.

Succulents

Because they are one of the most drought-resistant plants, caring for succulents means watering less often than with many other types of plant, perhaps every 10 days or fortnightly.

Peace lilies

Peace lily care involves waiting until the top inch or so of soil is dry or when their leaves start to visibly droop before watering – a weekly watering might be right.

Pothos

Wait until the soil has dried out to water to adopt good pothos plant care habits. Check weekly.

Orchids

If you’re a newbie to orchid care, be aware that these are often overwatered. If grown in bark they should be watered once a week at most, and Phalaenopsis grown in sphagnum moss need water less frequently.

What is the best way to water indoor plants?

The best way to water indoor plants is to water the soil and not the leaves, and to water evenly. 

‘It’s crucial to avoid splashing the leaves,’ says Tiffany Payne of Orangeries UK (opens in new tab). ‘Make sure the nozzle of your spraying can is pointing at the soil and not the leaves.’

And water evenly, she advises, watering around the pot rather than just on one side.

How many times a day should you water your indoor plants?

Watering of indoor plants should be thought of on more of a weekly schedule than a daily one. However, that isn’t the case for every type of plant so always get acquainted with the specific requirements of the plant you have.

Rather than think strictly of a timetable, check the soil of the plant and let that be your guide in conjunction with your knowledge of what the plant prefers. 

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.