As an elder millennial, it goes without saying that I’m into plants. I have five on my office desk (one is a small fishbowl with two Marimo moss balls). But I don’t just go on autopilot and water ‘em every Friday. Plants don’t like that, preferring a more personalised schedule. But how do you keep that organised? Here’s an easy way to create a plant watering schedule that ensures each plant gets the amount of water it needs.
1. Consider the conditions
Plants in large planters dry out more slowly than plants in small planters
Plants in bright light dry out more quickly than plants in low light
If your plant is in very humid air, it keeps the soil wetter for longer than if the plant lives in dry air. An office tends to be drier.
Is your plant near an air conditioner or a heater? It will likely need to be watered more often.
2. Consider the plant
Certain plants like to “dry out” and prefer a longer time between waterings—take my jade pothos, for example, which always seems to need ten days or more between waterings.
On the other hand, my Alocasia Polly is an Amazonian plant that thrives in moist conditions and should never dry out. Do a quick Google each of your plants to see their various watering quirks. You’ll quickly see why watering isn’t one-size-fits-all. (Also, certain plants love being misted in between waterings).
3. When to water
So, you’ve researched your plants and paid close attention to the environmental factors. Eventually you’ll realise that your Alocasia can go 6-7 days between waterings and your pothos no more than 10 days. It all depends on the plant; there is no standard, once-a-week rule.
In general, though, it’s a good rule of thumb that a plant can be watered if you stick your fingers about 5cm into the soil and find it dry. If it’s moist, leave it for a day or so, then come back and water.
4. How to keep track
Here’s how to create an easy plant-watering schedule that will help you juggle the needs of multiple plants.
At first, I started doing this with a piece of graph paper lying around my office; I numbered the left-hand side 1-30, one for every day of the month, and labelled the top with the names of my various plants. I put an “x” next to the number (date) I watered each plant. That way, going down the column for each plant, I could count the number of days since I’d last watered.
But most people prefer the digital way, so I transferred the system to Google Sheets.
And there you have it. The spreadsheet model can go on for as many days as you like (or you can periodically start over) and handle as many plants as you can scoop up.
This article has been updated since its original publication.