First question any new plant parent will ask is always “when do i water it?”. It’s a reasonable question too, problem is it’s so damn tricky to answer! The amount you water a plant will not only depend on which plant you buy, but also on things like light, temperature and potting media. I’m always wary of giving someone a definitive time+quantity because each home is different, and where you place your plant will also affect its water intake.
Then there is the infamous “overwatering is the biggest killer of houseplants” to consider.
We’ve all heard it but it’s a little intense. I feel like it just makes us all freak out about something instead of really understanding it. Sure, don’t water your plants more than necessary, but it’s not the over watering that’s killing the plants - it’s root rot. Over watering is just one of a few contributors that create the perfect conditions for root rot (caused by a water mould called Phytophthora).
This is what you need to manage. That water mould (literally: Phyto - plant; and phthora - destruction) we’re worried about loves excess moisture (ie over watering), poor aeration and weak roots. Ensuring that your plants get plenty of nourishment from the sun so they can grow healthy roots, as well as providing them with a good quality indoor potting mix that allows for free drainage and aeration, are both just as important as getting the water right.
Take this example:
You have two identical plants. Both have been potted up in exactly the same pots. The first one you potted up using a quality indoor potting mix but by the time you went to pot up the second one, you’d run out and had to use an old bag of general purpose potting mix you found out in the shed out back. You place one out on the bookshelf in the living room, with floor-ceiling windows and plenty of natural light. The second is going into your bedroom, where you don’t open the blinds as much because it faces a busy main road. Same plant. Same size pots. This doesn’t mean you’ll be watering them both at the same time with the same amount of water each week though. One plant is getting a lot more natural light, so it will be drawing up more water and having stronger, healthier roots than its counterpart in the bedroom. One plant will be in a potting mix specifically blended to provide better drainage and aeration so when you do water, it drains easily and doesn’t ‘suffocate’ the roots. The other plant is potted up in a mix that hasn’t been designed for indoor potted plants and therefore won’t contain things like perlite to help with drainage and keep the mix aerated.
Ideally, both plants will have a quality indoor potting mix and be getting enough light to keep the roots nice and healthy. But, in lieu of that, understanding what each plant is deficient in will help you manage your watering and keep root rot at bay.
So don’t be afraid to water your plants - just keep yourself informed about their individual circumstances and do what you can to provide them with the best. If you ran out of potting mix and didn’t use the good stuff, just make a mental note to grab some and repot the plant soon. If you’re keen to have a plant in a darker part of the house, consider getting some grow lights so it can still live its best life. Always water accordingly - every home is different and each plant will require water depending on how much light they receive, how warm the home is and what the potting mix is like. And finally, as always, ask the staff at the nursery where you bought the plant - they might not be able to say exactly when and how much, but they can provide you with tips on whether you should let the plant dry out completely between drinks or keep it moist, as well as ideal light and temperature conditions.