How to Water Indoor Houseplants: How Much and How Often

Hi Judy,
I have a Chinese evergreen plant and a Majesty Palm. From what I understand, these plants should be watered once a week correct? My question is, how much water should I give them once it’s time to water. Should I make the soil completely wet or should the top two inches of the soil only be wet? Also, what do you use to measure how much water to give them if you do so at all? For instance, do you use a measuring cup or do you just base it off of instinct? Thanks in advance!

Hi Andrew,
Let’s start with watering plants in general. Plants easily die from too much water because the roots rot. An under- watered plant can usually be saved, even if it loses a few leaves.  Plants in larger pots take longer to dry out than plants in smaller pots. Plants in higher light dry out faster than plants in lower light. Plants in warmer temperatures dry out faster than plants in a cool room. Plants in looser soil dry out faster than plants in heavy clay like soil. Plants with thick leaves ( succulentLearn the definition of a succulent plant and why they are called a "fat plant."s) store water and need to be watered less often than plants with thin leaves. I like to lift a plant when I’m not quite sure if it’s time to water. If the plant is heavy, I don’t water; if the plant is very light, I water. My best advice is always, when it doubt, don’t water!

All plants need drip holes in the bottom of their pot so excess water can escape. No plant should sit in the excess water, drain it as soon as possible. When you water any plant, water well enough so that the water comes out the drip holes in the bottom of the pot.

A Chinese Evergreen and a Majesty Palm have different watering needs and may need to be watered at different times. Different types of plants like their soil maintained at different moisture levelThese are general guidelines that describe different poisonous plant toxicity levels. It's possible for an allergic reaction to occur from contact with any houseplant, toxic or non-toxic. If there is ever a concern, call: Poison Control Center: ******1-800-222-1222****** Level #1: Houseplants with low toxicity, may be mildly irritating, especially the sap of the plant. Level#2: Houseplants with medium to severe toxicity. Eating parts of these houseplants may result in vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, skin irritations, and breathing difficulties. Level #3: These houseplants are  very poisonous. When eaten, especially in large quantities,  severe vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, skin irritations, and breathing difficulties can occur. Level #4: These houseplants are extremely poisonous. Eating parts of these houseplants can be be life threatening. Every plant listed in our Popular HousePlant guide has a section explaining whether or not it is toxic and, if so, how dangerous it is. Amaryllis, alocasia, dieffenbachias, crotons, ivies, azaleas, lilies, and philodendrons are just a few of the highly poisonous plants we use in our homes and offices all of the time. If you don't know whether your houseplant can pose a threat, send an email to Ask Judy@HousePlant411.com. Include a picture of your plant and a description. Judy will let you know if the houseplant should be kept away from small children and pets. See colorful pictures and get more information about poisonous houseplants in my book Don’t Feed Me To Your Cat! A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants  s before they are watered. The soil of a Majesty Palm should be consistently moist but not soggy. Never let a Majesty Palm dry out or sit in water. Brown tips on a Majesty Palm mean the plant needs more water and yellow tips mean the plant has been over-watered. When the tops few inches of soil are dry, it’s time to water. Majesty palms are usually in large pots, so although the top few inches are dry the soil towards the bottom of the pot is still wet.

Long green fronds on Majesty Palm
Majesty Palm

For a Chinese Evergreen, allow the top 25-30% of the soil to dry out before watering. When the soil of a Chinese Evergreen is too wet, the stems become “mushy” and die. To add to the confusion a bit, when the soil gets too dry or too wet, yellow leaves develop. These plants are considered poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched, immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222.  More poisonous houseplant information and pictures of common plants that are dangerous to children and pets can be found in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants and should be kept away from pets and children. Read more about common houseplants that are poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched, immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222.  More poisonous houseplant information and pictures of common plants that are dangerous to children and pets can be found in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants in Don’t Feed Me To Your Cat! A Guide to poisonous houseplantsIn her new book, Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat!, plant care professional Judy Feldstein shares information about twenty-five common houseplants, each with various levels of toxicity, and the possible consequences if your pet or child snacks on them.

Gray and green variegated Chinese Evergreen leaves
Aglaonema-Amelia
Chinese Evergreen