Water and fertilize your houseplants/potted plants
When to water your house plants and potted plants?
My grandmother had a simple rule to water and fertilize houseplants – she used predominantly Water Days and if necessary Earth Days for in-between top-ups. This simple trick makes sure that you don’t over or under-water your plants which are the most common reasons why houseplants die.
The only rule is to Avoid Air Days. Keeping to this routine will make sure that you have a thriving home garden.
The right way to water houseplants:
As well as frequency, it is also important to do it the right way.
Here is how to do it right:
Fill a big watering can with water (ideally rainwater). If you only have tap water to hand, leave it to stand for 24 hours. Add a small shot of liquid fertilizer (see below for homemade recipes) and water between the top soil layer and the rim of the pot. The plant will now take up the water it needs. Any excess should be able to drain into a waterproof dish. This is important – as no drainage and the plant will hold excess water and eventually die.
My tip is to go around watering and don’t water if you water too much. After about an hour, go around with a bucket and tip all excess water that has now gathered in the waterproof dishes and discard into the bucket.
Signs of underwatering: leaves curl and get brown edges, oldest leaves fall first, wilted leaves and little growth, not enough flowers form
Signs of overwatering: leaves look also brown and wilted with brown tips. both young and old leaves fall, mould forms at the leaf stem, and forms an unpleasant smell.
Misting: During the winter months when the central heating is on and in dry climates, it is not enough to just water the plants. They also need to be misted with a water bottle that forms a fine mist. Use this on leaves and flowers in the morning or evening avoiding direct sunlight.
If you live in a small space or in an urban setting, it is best to buy a good reputable liquid fertiliser. Algae-based ones are very good.
If you have a garden or large patio, you can try to make your own liquid fertilizers. Here are 2 recipes for you to try.
If you have an open fireplace and burn predominantly
wood, collect the burnt ash. This is particularly good for any kind of fruit and vegetables you grow, like tomatoes, and strawberries in containers, but most houseplants would like the occasional charcoal water shot.
Recipe: Mix 3 handfuls of ash with 5 litres of water. Use a large wooden stick or spoon to blend the ash with the water. Some Biodynamic Gardeners swear by stirring the pot for a good 20 minutes (always stir clockwise) to energise the water.
Reserve this water in a couple of glass bottles and add a good shot to your watering can.
Nettle brew is another classic organic fertiliser and is often referred to as the ‘cure all’ plant healer. If plants are weak after being infested or are ill and not thriving, a good dose of nettle brew might do the trick. But in small doses added to the water, it is a great all-around fertiliser.
You will need a garden, as it can be a bit smelly in the making process.
Get a container (that holds 5-10 litres). In spring fill your container up about half its size with young light green nettles and add warm water to fill the container up to full. Finally cover it with a fine metal-mesh lid, as it is important for air to get to the brew.
Every full moon and new moon stir with a long wooden stick to improve the air circulation and add every now and then a handful of bone meal or stone meal to the brew. Leave to stand for 2-3 moon cycles. This mixture can become quite smelly, so don’t wear nice clothes when you handle it and leave your container well away from any sitting area!
Once the brew is ready, strain it through a garden sieve into a few dark glass bottles with lids. The sieved nettle part can be discarded on the compost heap.
For watering, add 2-3 capsules of this liquid to your watering can.
If you make both, use most of the time nettle brew and during the Gibbous Waxing Moon and around the Full Moon switch to the charcoal water.
If you observe all these tips above to water and fertilize your houseplants, you will have a thriving home garden with healthy and happy potted plants.