Breaking Down Website Plant Care Info

Welcome to Day #1 of Reader Response – “Breaking Down Website Plant Care”.

This week we are breaking down an email for a subscriber… below is today’s part of their email.

“I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where everything grows ALL YEAR LONG, and pretty much with no help but being watered.

Now I live in the Indianapolis area, where unless my gardening skills have gone South, it seems NOTHING grows quite the way it’s advertised.

I did notice something on yesterday’s post – about how, in gardening, one often learns by failure.

Part of the problem I have is that, after having killed two philodendron, two Boston ferns and a bromeliad – before I found your website, it seemed that, while every gardening website had ADVICE, it was ALWAYS DIFFERENT from what THE OTHER website said.

“Let the soil dry a bit, between waterings,” said one. “NEVER let the soil dry out,” said another.

It’s hard to learn when each “teacher” tells you something different.

I need some CONSISTENT gardening advice – so I don’t kill any more plants.”

Website Plant Care Info

Let’s look at the topic of “Plant Care Advice.” Do you think many plant websites give conflicting information?

Do I think we provide the best plant information on the web?

Depending on your plant growing knowledge and level of experience you may or may not think so.

I’d like to think we are among the top for consumers and homeowners. But, I know we can always improve.

It can be frustrating searching for information and reading what appears to be conflicting advice.

Any information on plants, landscaping, gardening, lawns etc. you read at or any other plant website is strictly an opinion or advice on the topic.

There are so many variables which all play a part in providing information on How To grow a plant or do something.

Plant care is not: set it and forget it.

For example: How do you read the below “recommendations”?

Do they appear different?

Let the soil dry a bit, between waterings” said one.

NEVER let the soil dry out” said another.

I’m sure some people would look at them as being different.

Others would say they are the same, others would say they have some similar meanings.

I asked my wife to read them and her opinion was, that both statements recommend the soil to be wet but…

How Much or How Wet?

Do I see these “watering recommendations” as contradictory?

NO… I don’t.

Personally, I read the two “watering the plant” statements translating them as follows:

First, water this plant thoroughly – more below, but that is my starting point!

“Let the soil dry a bit, between waterings”

Translated: Before watering this plant again, the soil should be allowed to dry out some, but there should still be moisture in the soil. The soil should not be or stay wet!

“NEVER let the soil dry out,” said another.

Translated: NEVER ALLOW the plant to dry out completely.

I ask myself and so should you: What does completely dry out mean? It means to me, that the soil is so dry, the soil begins to pull moisture from the plant.

If I could take the soil and squeeze it in my hand, I could feel moisture but not enough for any water to drip out of my hand.

Think of a damp wash rag… it’s got some moisture in it. But, if you try to wring it out no water would drip off of it.

None at all.

Now let’s throw my wife’s question into the mix…

How Much or How Wet?

How Much?

Unless I am given some specific recommendations… I completely soak the soil on my plants (those with an established root systems). I water plants thoroughly.

In fact, I water my plants indoors with a 5 gallon bucket!

I fill the bucket about 1/2 full and I submerge the pot until there are NO BUBBLES.

This way I know the complete soil ball has been thoroughly soaked… no guessing if the plant was watered all the way.

Next I allow the plant to completely drain. I did not say dry out… I said drain. Then the clock starts ticking until the next watering.

And for those of you who may wonder. I do this for the few plants I have growing in soil in my house. Including the 7 1/2 foot tall dracaena.

Now depending on the plant, location, lighting, soil type, etc. Watering may need to be done once a week, every 2 weeks or every 3 days.

The amount never changes – a thorough soaking – however, the interval may change.

Personally, most of my indoor plants I use subirrigation in a LECA rock which takes all the guess work out of watering.


It does not matter where you grew up or live – San Francisco Bay Area, Indianapolis, Miami, Atlanta or Bangor Maine.

Growing or better yet – caring for plants is a matter of making adjustments to the plants (and sometimes your) environment.

Those of us who are seasoned growers and make recommendations… All any of us can do is give you some best practices in caring for a plant, share our growing experiences and provide some possible “ideas” for you to consider.

Much of what you read care wise requires some input, processing and/or translation on your part. You play a major role in the plant care process.

There are 1000’s of different soil combinations. You must be the one to determine: soil moisture, how often to water, how much to water, etc., from the guidelines you can find on websites. I start with a premise that the soil needs to be totally watered and the excess water drained.

When reading over information on the web on just about any subject, take the information, filter through it, apply some “reasoning,” make your best application, learn… make adjustments.

That is the secret to growing plants successfully indoors or out. Book knowledge is great, but experience is the real teacher.

Coming Up Tomorrow…

Tomorrow we’ll look at:

I live in an apartment that faces South – I get good direct MORNING sun, and some good early afternoon sun; shade in the afternoon.

I lost one small hosta (but because I think it was infested with something – the other, larger one is growing like mad!).

While the large one currently shows brown leaves, I suspect it’s because of the absurdly high temperatures, lately.

Tips To Improve Your Plant Care
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