Monty Don provides advice on watering houseplants
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From boosting air quality to bringing a touch of the outdoors into your home, houseplants are a great addition to any room. However, for those just beginning their journey as a plant parent, keeping them alive can be difficult.
One of the most common problems plant owners run into is watering.
Whether you are overwatering, or under watering, houseplants can be fussy about how much H20 they soak up each week.
During the winter months, certain varieties of houseplant actually require less watering than in the toasty months of summer.
However, there is one kitchen item that could be beneficial in helping your plants get the exact amount of water they need.
The solution may lie with the humble sponge you use to wash up your cutlery and dishes.
According to Gardeningetc, burying a sponge in the bottom of your plant pot can soak up excess water, and hold onto it until your plant is in need.
They state: “The trick is to put a kitchen sponge at the bottom of your plant pot when repotting.
“This creates a reservoir of water for the roots to drink up when the soil runs dry.”
In a Reddit forum dedicated to houseplant hacks, a user named Meccio85 claimed that using a sponge may actually be more effective than placing gravel at the bottom of your plant pot to collect excess water.
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They said: “There’s some science backing up sponges instead of gravel.
“The reason is that the soil will keep the water just above the gravel because dirt is a natural sponge.
“The only way the water gets to the gravel is if you overwater. And so, the sponge will suck out excess water from your dirt instead staying put.”
The Gardeningetc experts also say the sponge hack could help to prevent root rot – though this will depend on the size and species of plant.
The sponge hack is better suited to smaller plants, as the roots of some larger plants could end up growing into the sponge.
Over time, this would see their roots sitting in a permanent pool of water.
The hack could also lead to the growth of mould in some cases.
Anna from Plant Pet Club told Gardeningetc that a sponge could result in a permanent pool of water that prevents free flow out of drainage pots.
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This stagnant water is likely to provide the perfect growing conditions for fungus and bacteria – particularly if the sponge takes up the full width of your plant pot.
With these things in mind, it is better to stick with a smaller piece of sponge, so that excess water may also make its way out of drainage holes.
In any event, houseplant owners should check the care tips of their specific plant species.
Even with the sponge hack, it is best to water your plant as close to the frequency set out in its care instructions as possible.
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