Ask a Question forum: Watering houseplants w/ tray in lieu of top pour

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Los Angeles, CA
Paul_
Mar 10, 2018 7:06 PM CST
Is it OK for me to water the following plants by leaving them in a shallow tray of water until the water evaporates/wicks away (instead of pouring water over the top)?

--only once per watering schedule per plant's requirements--

All plants are in their plastic pots from the nursery. I received free trays from the nursery...also plastic. Trays are no deeper than 1.5".

Munstead 'angustifolia' lavenders in 4" pot.
5" tray

Peace lilies in 3.5" pot.
4" tray

Bella 'neanthe' palm in 3.5" pot.
4" tray

"Neon" & "Brasil" heartleaf-philodendrons in 3" pot.
4" tray
[Last edited by Paul_ - Mar 11, 2018 12:48 AM (+)]
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Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Mar 10, 2018 8:35 PM CST
As a general rule, it is best to remove any water that the plants don't drink fairly promptly rather than allowing them to sit in a puddle.
Porkpal
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Mar 10, 2018 10:33 PM CST
I had the same problem so cut egg crate plastic ceiling panels to fit inside the shallow tray. Now I can water and not worry about pots sitting in excess water. The panels are only about 1/2 inch high so you may want to cut two pieces and stack them.

You can also use colorful pebbles are marbles to fill the bottom of the tray. I was worried about weight as I am using the 10 x 20 inch black plastic trays that are not built for heavy duty use.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Mar 10, 2018 10:59 PM CST
I would rather use terracotta watering spikes. It will also be visually easier to see if there is still water in it and less messy looking allowing better airflow at root zone rather than making them sit in too much water.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 11, 2018 8:14 AM CST
Paul - There are many ways to water plants from both the top and bottom and via wick systems. Why is it that you prefer to water from the bottom? There may be a better way to accomplish what you want.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
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Los Angeles, CA
Paul_
Mar 11, 2018 4:38 PM CST
WillC said:Paul - There are many ways to water plants from both the top and bottom and via wick systems. Why is it that you prefer to water from the bottom? There may be a better way to accomplish what you want.


I have 22 pots of plants that I take into the bathroom for watering and draining. After watering them, the water falls immediately out of the bottom and then drips slowly for a few hours. I leave them in the tub until they're done dripping.

I want to avoid moving the pots back/forth, and eliminate the dripping in the tub. I was hoping it would be easier if I went to each pot where I keep them around my apartment, fill their tray with a little bit of water...and then neglect them for another week or two.

I was also hoping watering them through the bottom would keep the top of the soil dry enough to stop inviting gnats.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 11, 2018 6:49 PM CST
You might consider putting water-tight saucers under each pot so you don't have to schlep them back and forth.

Fungus gnats are a sure sign of contaminated potting soil and not allowing the soil to dry deep enough into the pot. Bottom watering is not a very good remedy for that.

I suggest you remove any loose soil from the top of the roots. Then, allow the soil to dry as deep into the pot as the plant will allow - usually almost to the wilt-point. Then, water from the top using just enough water so that the plants dry out deep into the pot again within a week. That probably means less water then would be needed for water to run through the drain holes. When you water from the bottom, it is very hard to tell how much water has wicked up and how high.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Los Angeles, CA
Paul_
Mar 11, 2018 7:30 PM CST
I for sure introduced the gnats to the plants. I had gnats in my bathroom, then bought carnivorous sundews to eat the gnats, started geeking out on plants, and bought several houseplants....essentially creating an ecosystem for the gnats to thrive.


WillC said:You might consider putting water-tight saucers under each pot so you don't have to schlep them back and forth.

Fungus gnats are a sure sign of contaminated potting soil and not allowing the soil to dry deep enough into the pot. Bottom watering is not a very good remedy for that.

I suggest you remove any loose soil from the top of the roots. Then, allow the soil to dry as deep into the pot as the plant will allow - usually almost to the wilt-point. Then, water from the top using just enough water so that the plants dry out deep into the pot again within a week. That probably means less water then would be needed for water to run through the drain holes. When you water from the bottom, it is very hard to tell how much water has wicked up and how high.


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