Plant pot tip eliminates common reason ‘houseplants are killed’

Houseplants: RHS advises on watering techniques

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Getting to grips with your new houseplant’s unique watering schedule can be difficult, with overwatering one of the most common reasons why certain plants die. Overwatering kills plants by filling up air spaces in the soil meaning roots can’t breathe, as well as being a leading factor in root rot.

However, houseplant expert and content creator Em Deacon has a clever plant pot hack which will make sure you never overwater your plant. As an added bonus, Em says the tip will also ward off certain parasites.

In a video posted to her TikTok page @emlivingherbestlife, she said: “Most houseplants are killed by overwatering.

This means they are watered too often rather than too much. So here is a video showing you when your plant actually needs to be watered.”

To begin, Em uses a marker to draw three lines on her plant pot at various increments. The first is 25 percent of the way down the pot, to represent the first 25 percent of soil.

@emlivingherbestlife #plantcare #planthacks #plantadvice #houseplants ♬ Send Me on My Way – Vibe Street

She then repeats this line at 50 percent and 75 percent. Then, she grabs a clean chopstick to place into the soil.

“First up, take a bamboo chapstick, place it into the soil and swivel,” she said. After swivelling the chopstick around one time in the soil, remove it in one smooth motion to look at how much of the soil sticks.

“You’re looking to see how wet the chopstick is. Only moist soil will stick to the chopstick,” Em explained. “So here you can see that only the bottom 25 percent or so is we meaning the top 75 percent of the soil is dry.

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“This is ideal because most houseplants like to dry out around 75 percent of the way between watering, so I knew it was time to water.” She continued: “I bottom watered and 10 minutes later, I went back to check the soil.”

Bottom watering, sometimes referred to as reverse watering, is when you place your plant pot in a bowl of water, allowing the soil and roots to soak water through the holes in the bottom of the pot.

The method helps you to avoid drowning your plants in their pot, as the soil will only absorb as much moisture as it can hold.

Em added: “I also like to keep the top layer of soil dry to prevent fungus gnats and I can do this by watering from the bottom rather than the top. This is what works for me, find your way.”

Her TikTok video has so far amassed 24.2K “likes” and has been commented on by 182 fans, who have described the hack as “brilliant” and “helpful”.

An anonymous commenter said: “This is brilliant advice.” Another commenter named Liam added: “This is actually a really good example of a helpful video that is simple, provides useful content and does not shout at people along the way. Thank you.”

As well as helping people understand how much water their plants need, a TikTok user named Jaz noted that it had helped her understand how to put a stop to fungus gnats. In a comment, she wrote: “I keep getting lots of gnats on my plants and I wasn’t sure how to get rid of them. I know not to wet the top of the soil now!”

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