Note: This is Part 2 of a three-part series on How to Grow a Houseplant. Part 1 covered light & temperature requirements, Part 3 will discuss containers and repotting.
The biggest problem most people have with growing container plants is watering. Ideally, the potting soil for your plant should have equal amounts of air and water trapped between its particles. It should be moist but not soggy.
Most people realize that letting plants dry out is a bad idea (unless you’re growing cactus). However, too much water can also cause wilting. Frequently, a novice gardener will interpret the limp leaves to mean the plant is thirsty, and water more. This nearly always proves fatal. What has actually happened is that the roots have suffocated from a lack of air. Dead roots can’t absorb water, so the plant wilts. More houseplants die from overwatering than from drought. Always check the soil first.
You can stick your finger into the potting mix, or buy a simple water meter that indicates how wet your plant is. Or, if it isn’t too big and heavy, you can simply lift the pot. A well-watered pot is heavy. If your plant feels like a light-weight, it’s time to water.