To water or not to water? That is the question.
I only have two plants that like to be kept on the more moist side, asparagus retrofractus and farfugium japonicum. The other 98% of my plants hate being overwatered, which is where these strategies have been game changers for me! The "How" for me is bottom watering and in the morning. The "When" is determined by the following.
- Soil Color: Just get to know your soil, what it looks like when it's dried out and when you just watered it. The pictures below are of the top of the plant, just because I think it's easier to see the difference in color. However, I always look at the bottom of the pot, peeking through the drainage holes to see if it's dried all the way to the bottom. Looking at the bottom is a better measure than the top because the top dries out more quickly as it is exposed to more air. If I see the bottom soil is a light brown and more (I might touch it too to see if it feels dry), then I know the plant can probably use some water.
- Plant Weight: Hold a plant with dry soil, and then after thoroughly watering it, feel the difference. It is pretty significant. When the weight feels literally like what I would imagine the leaves and bare roots to weigh (almost feather light), I know it could probably use some water.
- Leaf Texture: I find with more succulent type plants (succulents, hoyas, cacti, rubber plants), the leaves feel more tender and soft when they are ready to be watered. If the leaves feel thick and firm, I interpret it as the plant does not need water just yet. I've noticed it takes my plants about ~24 hours to firm up after watering.
- Leaf Appearance: Notice the images above. The tender leaves also have more visible veins. The firm leaves do not show the veins as much and are a slightly deeper green. The firm leaves also look more...perky? The tender leaves seem to droop slightly. The leaves of some plants (pothos, philodendron, peace lily, fittonia) will droop to tell you they need water. Below is an example, but the droop is sometimes more subtle. I do not recommend waiting until the droop is so dramatic.
So if your soil is dry, plant weight is light, leaves are tender/drooping, your plant is communicating with you and it is ready for some water (: