Tips on watering plants

The most common question our customers ask is how often plants need to be watered and how much water should be given. The following points which  include various tips and recommendations.

The best time to water plants (especially outdoor ones) is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Remember that the Maltese summer can reach very high temperatures. Watering early in the day will help water penetrate the roots better as there will not be so much evaporation.

Using Fertilizer

We recommend using a high quality organic matter which helps the plant retain water and contains a lot of nutrients. You may choose to mix some fresh compost with it. If you are using a timer you may wish to set it up early in the morning or in the evening.

Use your finger

We recommend using the ‘finger test’ to check whether the plant actually needs water. This basically consists of inserting a finger, or a wooden stick, in the potting mix of the plant and checking whether it’s dry or moist. Sometimes you may need to dig down a little deep (ex 2 inches)as only the surface would be moist. You may also use a moisture meter for more accurate measurements.


The most common issue with watering plants is giving too much. Over-watering your plant will lead to root rot and will ultimately kill your plant. Very often plants in containers tend to get overwatered because there aren’t any holes in the pots and water can’t drain. When using an under-plate, always remember to remove any excess water!

Proper drainage

Another reason might would be improper drainage due to low quality potting mix. Remember that a plant in its normal environment will never accumulate excess water in its roots and excess water will be drained very efficiently deep way under the rooting systems.

No wet leaves

Avoid watering by splashing from above, which can cause the moisture to splash onto the leaves of your plants. This can result to sunburn or rotting. Instead, aim the water at the soil above their roots. It will trickle down into the root zone, where your plant can absorb it and put it to use.

Use a watering can

For indoor plants especially, you may wish to use a watering can with a long handled waterspout so that you may water evenly and equally around the plant. If it has been a while since you watered, then you may use the “water wait water method” by firstly giving it a nice little drip and waiting for water to sink in and soak through, then give it a little more. The soil will be able to absorb water efficiently.


Terracotta/clay pots are usually preferred to plastic pots, especially for outdoor plants. Terracotta pots are better because it allows air and water to pass through the walls of the pot. This promotes healthy plants by staving off root rot and disease caused by overwatering. Please keep in mind that this can also cause the soil to dry out quickly, which can sometime mean more watering.


If your plant is still in the nursery pot it was bought in and it’s been a few months (or years), then you might need to check whether it needs to be repotted. This will give room for plants to grow and allows more air to get into the root system. It also prevents poor soil and roots from becoming root bound causing lack of growth and waterlogged soil, in addition to preventing diseases.

Adapting to your plant’s habitat

Always think of the plant’s natural habitat. Plants live forests, woodlands, grasslands, and deserts throughout the world.

For example, many different ferns can tolerate excessive moisture in the ground and they can be planted at the edge of ponds or in very wet areas.

Most cacti should be watered once the soil has completely dried out. Don’t water on a schedule, but monitor the condition of the plant and dryness of the potting mix to know when to water a cactus. Factors such as size of cactus, size of pot, temperature, humidity and season will all affect how often to water cactus plants.

Observe and react

Other common causes for plant death include temperature stress, pests, disease, low humidity, and lacking fertilizer. It is important to observe and identify the problem before taking action.