Do I give my house plants too much or too little water?

Plants cannot do without water, that is clear. But exactly how much water do your green friends need? We explain how you can see whether a houseplant receives too much or too little water and how much water is sufficient.


How much water does my plant need?

How much water a plant requires varies per plant. The information card - which often comes with the plant when you purchase it - shows the water requirements. This can be a lot, medium or little.

A lot means that the soil must always be moist. For example, palms and ficus are plants where the soil must always be slightly moist. Incidentally, if a plant needs a lot of water, this does not mean that you have to give a lot of water in one go; So you water your plant more often.

Medium means that you have to let the soil dry out briefly before you water it again. ‘Average drinkers’ are, for example, Dracaena and Aglaonema. In between watering it is important that the soil of these plants dries up.

Little means that you can let the soil dry out for a longer period of time. Longer time means that you have to water the plant once every two weeks. Beaucarnea, Sansevieria, Yucca and all kinds of succulents and cacti are plants that need little water. In the winter, a splash of water is enough for these plants just once every four weeks.

Is the soil moist or dry?

To determine whether your plant needs water, it’s important to touch and feel it. If the soil sticks to your finger, it means that the soil is moist. By the way, if the soil on top is dry, that doesn't mean the entire soil is dry. Deeper inside, the soil can still be moist. You can test this by sticking a wooden skewer in the ground and see whether it comes out moist or not.


How can I tell that my plant is not getting enough water?

A plant that doesn’t get enough water looks sad. The places where the stems and the leaves are thin, the plant often starts to limp. From these symptoms it’s difficult to read whether the plant is getting too much or too little water, because both too much and too little water have the same result. That sounds strange, but too much water will cause the roots to rot; as a result of which the plant can no longer absorb water. Thus it will exhibit the same symptoms as a plant that receives too little water. In both cases the leaves turn yellow. To know if your plant gets too much or too little water, you should always look at the roots.

Overwatering a plant causes root rot, but light and heat deficiency can also be a reason for the yellow leaf. Read more.


Different substrates

How much water a plant requires does not only depend on the needs of a plant. The substrate in which the plant grows is just as important. Plants on Hydro substrates generally require less water because the granules continue to give off moisture for a long time and the water reservoir in the pot supplies water for a long time. Read more about different substrates here.

Type of pot

The material of the pot also plays an important role in the amount of water that a plant needs. Terracotta pots absorb a lot of moisture, so less water remains for the plant and the soil dries out quicker. Plants that need little water are very suitable for keeping in terracotta pots. Plastic pots do not retain water, so plants that like to stand in moist soil can easily be placed in a plastic pot. It is important that plants can get rid of the excess moisture. That’s why most flower pots have drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. No drainage holes? Make them yourself or first place it in a container with drainage holes, and then in the pot without holes.

Place a dish under a pot with drainage holes. This way, the plant can get rid of the excess water but always absorb it later when it starts to get dry.


Where is your plant placed?

In addition to all these factors, the location matters when it comes to the amount of water. A houseplant that’s in a light spot will use more water one placed in the shade. Plants with a lot of (big) leaves also evaporate water faster than plants with less foliage.



Because it’s colder and darker in the winter, many plants go into resting mode during that period. As a result, they need less water. Limit watering during winter. Are your plants in a room where the heating is on? Water them regularly but with less water. The dry heating air ensures rapid evaporation of the water. If your heating is on, prevent the dry air from harming your plants by spraying them once or twice a week or try to humidify the room.