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Whether you're a plant expert or novice, everyone needs to pay their houseplants some attention by watering them and giving them access to their preferred level of sunlight. While positioning your plant in the correct spot should take care of the latter, the former can be more complicated—especially since there are a few ways to hydrate your plants, including bottom watering.
"Watering from the bottom is a great way to ensure plants are taking up the appropriate amount of water and allowing even distribution to the plant," explains Kate Ferguson, the co-founder of Flourish. "You can use this method for plants in pots with drainage holes. Pro tip: All your houseplants should be in pots with drainage holes—or leave them in nursery pots inside of a decorative planter."
We tapped two plant experts to share exactly how to bottom water your houseplants—and explain which varieties are best suited for this hydration method.
Put your plants in a tub or sink and let them "soak."
Put the pot (with a drainage hole, of course) into a sink or basin, then fill the basin with lukewarm water until the water almost reaches the top of the pot.
Let your varieties soak for about 10 minutes to an hour. You might see a few air bubbles, which are normal.
After your allotted soak period, drain the water and let the potted plants drip dry. Then, return them to their saucers.
Note: Our experts advise against letting plants sit too long in the water (they should not soak for more than six hours).
Bottom watering only works for certain plants.
As for the best plants to water with this method? "We love this method for ferns, philodendrons, and pothos plants, because they have dense and robust root balls that can take up the water effectively," Ferguson says. "We wouldn't recommend this method for plants with a bulb, such as alocasias." Satch notes that watering from the base works best for smaller plants, or plants in pots that are less than 6 inches in diameter.
You should still water plants from the top—or try a hybrid option.
While bottom watering allows for even water distribution, Ferguson still recommends hydrating your plants from the top every few months. This way, the soil will be able to drain—in a downward motion—and clear out build-up of trapped salts and minerals below.
Satch also suggests a hybrid method: watering plants simultaneously from the top and bottom. First, add water to the top of the soil until you see the saucer fill up underneath; let it sit for 10 minutes. "Some of the water will have been absorbed from the tray if the plant is really thirsty," he says. "Add more water to the top until the tray is full again. Wait another 10 minutes, and repeat this process until the tray stays full." After waiting for a full day, dump out the tray.