Botany or Plant Biology

How much water do plants need?


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This is a very general question and nearly impossible to answer without more specific details of the plant.

The water requirements for plants vary widely depending on:

  • Indoor or outdoor location.
  • Type of plant - water requirements for a cactus would be different to those of an orchid.
  • Size of the plant - obviously a large tree will require more water than a small seasonal plant.
  • Season - plants grow at different rates at different times of the year.
  • Aspect - is the plant exposed to sun and wind or protected by other plants or structures.
  • Type of soil - clay soils retain a lot of water, where as sand does not.

Needless to say there are literally millions of variables. Some plants need to be submerged in water, while others can survive for weeks or months without water.

Although with respect to indoor plants, the generally accepted "rule of thumb" is: put your finger into the pot/ container, if it is damp then the plant does not need watering; if dry, water sparingly.

It is best to water indoor plants sparingly, it is easier to see the symptoms of under watering (dull green leaves, leaves that are slightly wrinkled) than over watering which only exhibits after the damage is done.