skip to Main Content

How To Water Indoor Plants: Your Complete Guide

How To Water Indoor Plants

*We may earn a commission for purchases made using our links. Please see disclosure to learn more. 

How to Water Indoor Plants

Watering indoor plants can be relatively easy as long as you understand their individual needs.

By following a few simple rules, you can make certain that your indoor plants receive the ideal amount of moisture to keep them healthy and looking their best.

To keep your plants in peak condition, check out the specific advice for watering your easy care indoor plant under the ‘plants’ menu on the Indoor Plant Center website.

When you find the article on your specific plant, look under Watering & Humidity for advice on exactly how to water your indoor plant.

You will usually be advised to use one (or more) of the following five methods for watering your plant.

1. Watering from above

watering plants from above

Many types of plants such as tropical plants and ferns enjoy having their foliage splashed with water.

When doing so, just make sure that the soil is also soaked or otherwise you risk just watering the leaves without giving the roots a good drink.

For this method of watering, use a watering can with a rose head for the best result.

2. Watering from below

African violets

Some plants, such as African Violets, do not enjoy their leaves or stems getting wet.

In this case, or when the foliage is covering the soil mix, making it difficult to get to, set your plant in a pot with drainage holes, and place in a tray with about one inch (2.5cm) of water for about 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove the pot and drain any excess water.

3. Misting leaves and aerial roots

misting indoor plants

Many plants absorb moisture through their leaves and aerial roots. Plant in this category include orchids, Swiss cheese plants and areca palms.

These plants need to have their leaves and roots misted regularly and their soil kept moist to keep them healthy.

4. Watering bromeliads

watering bromeliads

The leaves and bracts (petal-like modified leaves) of most bromeliads form a cup-like reservoir in the middle of the plant.

Fill this cup with distilled water or rain water every few weeks, also watering the compost at the same time, to keep it moist.

5. Soaking air plants

air plants soaking in water

The best way to water air plants is to soak them in a tray of distilled or rain water for an hour once a week.

After soaking, remove from the tray and allow to drain, making sure that they are fully dry within 4 hours to prevent rotting.

An alternative method involves misting your air plants 2-3 times a week.

How Often to Water Indoor Plants

How often you water your indoor plants depends on their individual moisture needs.

Maintaining correct moisture levels is definitely one of the most important aspects of indoor plant care.

Understanding Different Moisture Levels

Indoor plants require one of the following 4 levels of moisture;


  • Almost dry soil: should feel dry ¾ inch (2 cm) below the surface, but can be slightly damp lower down.


Most succulents and cacti require their compost to be this dry between watering.


  • A dry top layer of soil mix: should feel dry to the touch on the surface. This applies to many plants where their soil should feel dry before watering.


Other plants may only require this level of moisture during winter months when growth has slowed.


  • Moist Soil: should feel damp to the touch without looking wet or glistening.


In this situation, the plant’s pot should have drainage holes and any excess water should be drained away about an hour after watering.


  • Wet Soil Mix: should look and feel entirely soaked with a glistening surface.


Carnivorous plants are amongst the few plant varieties requiring this level of moisture.

Plant in a pot with drainage holes and stand in a tray of water.

Note: The biggest single killer of indoor plants is over watering, so be sure give your indoor plants the level of moisture they need. 

See the Indoor Plant Center article for your plant for the best advice on how to water your indoor plants.

How to Water Indoor Plants While on Vacation

Most indoor plants will survive a long weekend without watering, and some such as succulents and cacti, can go for weeks without watering (especially of you place them in a cool bright room and give them a drink as soon as you return.)

For all other plants, you will need to take some action to ensure that your plants are looked after, while you are away.

In case you don’t have someone like a neighbor or friend to help out;

Here are 3 handy tricks for keeping your indoor plants watered while you are on vacation.

1. Water bottle method

bottled Water method

Cut the bottom out of a plastic bottle and make a small hole in the cap with the tip of a hot skewer.

Screw the cap onto the bottle and push it into the potting mix. Fill the bottle with water; this will allow the water to drip slowly into the soil.

Make sure that your pot has drainage hole to allow excess water to drain out onto a saucer or tray.

2. The wick method

Watering Plant With Matting

Stand a bowl of water on an upturned pot so that it’s higher than the surface of the potting mix.

Weigh down a strip of capillary matting (available from garden centers) into the bowl and push the other end into the soil.

The matting will slowly water the plant. This method is best for single plants or large plants that can’t be moved.

3. Easy sink method

How to water indoor plants using your Kitchen sink

Fill the sink with water and place capillary matting or an old towel on the draining board, with one end in the water.

Remove your plants from their sleeves and set them on the wet matting or towel, so that moisture can be drawn up through the drainage holes in their pots to the roots.


Humidity for Indoor Plants

With many indoor plant varieties originating from tropical environments, dry indoor spaces can cause plant foliage to dry out and turn brown.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can increase the humidity levels to make your moisture loving plants feel more at home.

Here are 4 tips for increasing humidity for indoor plants;


1. Pebble Trays for Indoor Plants

Damp pebble tray

One of the easiest ways of raising indoor humidity levels for your plant is to use a damp pebble tray.

Pour water into a tray of stone or hydroleca ceramic pebbles so that the pebbles are just covered, and set your plant on top.

As the water gradually evaporates, it’s raising the humidity level around the pot.

2. Misting Plants

indoor plant mister

With the help of a mister filled with distilled or rain water, mist the leaves and aerial roots of your plants every 2-3 days, reducing the frequency to weekly during winter months for most plants.

3. Grouping Plants

grouping indoor plants

All plants release moisture through a process known as “transpiration”. (Just like we do when we breathe out)

You can create a tropical micro climate by grouping a few plants together where each plant will benefit from the moisture released by the other plants.

4. Using a Humidifier

indoor plant humidifier

The humidity levels of a room can be increased with the help of a humidifier.

Many people install a humidifier in the home for health reasons where family members, including new born babies, may be sensitive to dry air.

It’s important not to raise humidity levels too high as this too can cause problems. A good idea is to use a hygrometer to check for optimum humidity levels for both indoor plants and people.

I do hope you’ve enjoyed this article on how to water indoor plants and found some tips to help you.


If so, then why not pin it on Pinterest?


Christine Mattner

What started out as purely a desire to keep my indoor plants alive has turned into a full-blown passion for sharing what I have learned over the years about selecting, growing and caring for indoor plants with those who may be new to the wonderful world of houseplants.

Back To Top