Houseplants: ‘Essential’ care to prevent mouldy soil – ‘could end up killing your plant’

Adults happier when surrounded by houseplants

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Some houseplants need lots of water throughout the summer months because the climate is warmer. This means in winter they need less watering, and one expert has shared how to tell if you have overwatered your plant.

Overwatering a houseplant is harmful, especially in winter because it can cause problems, including killing the plant.

Richard Cheshire, the plant doctor at Patch Plants, said: “Overwatering is the most common causes of mouldy plant soil in houseplants.

“In wintertime, it is essential to change how often we water our plants as most of them stop growing and some even hibernate.

“We often think that more water equals a happier plant, but houseplants need air as well as water.

“Waterlogging the soil drowns the roots, and it could end up killing your plant.”

The most common signs of an overwatered plant include wet soil, yellow or falling leaves, mushy growth and a musty smell.

Houseplants should have a slightly moist soil and the soil should not have an unpleasant, damp smell.

There is a fine line between watering it the right amount and overwatering it, causing it to drown.

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Richard shared six tips to help prevent overwatering houseplants this winter.

He explained: “Do the dip finger test…dip your finger up to your second knuckle, if your finger stays dry and clean, then it’s time to water.

“Ideally, only water your plants when the top two inches of soil feel dry.

“For cacti and succulents, it is best to water only when the soil is fully dry.”

The expert also recommends planting a houseplant with drainage holes at the bottom.

He said: “Many decorative pots do not have proper drainage holes at the bottom, making the plant more prone to overwatering.

“Ideally, the plant is in a pot with drainage holes at the bottom.”

For those who do want to plant pots in a decorative pot, place a saucer underneath to catch the excess.

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Richard said: “Alternatively, water your plant in a sink or bathtub and let the excess drain off before putting it back in its decorative pot.”

Helping air circulation can also help to prevent overwatering, because the water will be able to reach all of the soil.

The expert explained: “For this, simply poke holes in the soil with a pencil or a long stick to help air circulate, but be careful not to damage the roots.”

For those really concerned about overwatering their houseplants can purchase a moisture meter.

“It can help you monitor the amount of water in the soul,” Richard said.

He added: “They are also great to remind you when to water if you are a forgetful person.

“These can range from inexpensive ones that change colour when the soil’s too wet or dry to fancy ones with digital displays.”

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