Indoor Plant Ideas

Found: The Plant-Watering Trick That’ll Keep Your Garden Alive and Thriving

Kells McPhillips

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Photo: Getty Images/Sara Monika

There’s no getting around the fact that watering plants is simply a chore that can lead to potentially deadly effects (for them, of course, just to be clear). Just as easily as you may accidentally drown plants, you can also swing in the opposite direction of leaving them high and dry (remember, even cacti need a tiny sip of H2O). And so, to prevent an early death of your precious, let’s say, fern, you’re going to want to bookmark the following easy way to water plants confidently: Give them a nice, relaxing bath.

“Most common houseplants—from leafy tropicals to fleshy succulents—can be watered in your bathtub or shower, if done properly.” —Erin Marino, plant expert, the Sill

“Most common houseplants—from leafy tropicals to fleshy succulents—can be watered in your bathtub or shower, if done properly,” says Erin Marino, plant expert and director of marketing at plant company The Sill. Really, the only criteria is that your plant lives in a planter with drainage holes or the plastic nursery grow pots they come in so that the water can drain out in the shower, she adds. “Unless you plan to be incredibly mindful of the amount of water that is coming out of the shower head, this is important to avoid over-watering and potential root rot. And, if you plan to water from below—by filling the tub first then adding your plants to soak up the water—your plants will need the drainage holes to pull that water up through.”

If your pot has no holes to speak of, stick to an old-school watering can. Otherwise, join me on this plant bath adventure, led by Marino herself.

Plant-bathing 101: Learn the easy way to water plants at home in 5 steps

1. Scrub your tub or shower: “Make sure to give your tub a scrub before adding your plants to avoid leftover shampoo, soap, or similar [products] making its way into your plants’ potting mix,” says Marino. It’s really a respectful thing to do. I mean, would you want to shower with dirt or fertilizer?

2. If you’re trying the bottom-up method, draw your bath: Plug the drain of your bath (if you’re using a bath), and fill it with tepid or room-temperature water. “You’ll want to make sure the water line is lower than the height of your shortest planter,” says Marino. “The water line should not go above the tops of planters—remember, the plant will pull up the water through the drainage holes. Think of the amount of excess water that sits in your planter’s saucer after watering, or that you would add to a pebble tray.”

3. If you’re using the top down method, turn the shower on: “If you plan to water from top to bottom instead, also use tepid or room-temperature water, and make sure not to turn the faucet on slowly, so the water trickles down,” says Marino. Dialing up the water pressure too hard has the potential of damaging your plants’ pretty leaves and scattering the potting soil.

4. Check the bottom of your pants: After a 30-minute or hour-long soak, the bottom of your pots should be submerged in water. Of course, it may take longer or shorter depending on how long it’s been since you last drew your house plants a bath, so just poke your fingers through the holes in the bottom and make sure you feel moisture, Marino says.

5. Place your plants back in their dishes: Without making too much of a mess, go ahead and place your plants back in their dishes. Congratulations, you bought your plant at least an extra week of life.

Experts Referenced

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