How to check soil moisture in potted plants is a matter to take into consideration so that you can water them when necessary and with the right amount.How to Check Soil Moisture In Potted Plants

Watering houseplants is an important requirement for them to remain healthy and vibrant. Each potted plant has individual needs, so the watering frequency is different.

If you want to be more equipped to check plant moisture, read this guide.

How to Check Moisture in Potted Plants in Precise Ways?

To check moisture in potted plants in precise ways, you must make use of a moisture sensor or meter. You can test with your finger, skewer, chopstick, or pencil. You can use watering indicator sticks, or weigh the pot, or pay attention to the plant’s health.

You should know how to accurately check soil moisture because the changes in climatic conditions can determine the amount of water to be added after a certain period, depending on the potted plant species. You can only set one watering schedule for some of the plants in your garden.

Most plants need to be watered frequently in summer but are very sensitive to overwatering, so knowing the moisture is helpful. You can then reduce the frequency in winter when most plants are in the dormancy stage. As you run some research, it will help you know the watering routines for all your plants.

For example, succulents are not watered regularly because they do not dry out quickly. Hanging plants also dry out quicker than most plants, so they may need to be kept moist by watering more regularly. Research can help you to know how often you need to check the moisture content in the soil of your indoor plant.

– Make Use of a Moisture Sensor

Technology has made it easier to determine the amount of soil moisture, so if you invest in the right tool, you will know so well how to check the humdity rate. You can use a moisture sensor, which is available at reasonable prices that almost every gardener can afford.Using a Moisture Sensor

Knowing how to measure soil moisture using sensor is hustle-free as the instructions are easy to follow. Therefore, upon realizing that you don’t know how to tell if the plant needs water or sun, get yourself a moisture sensor.

Insert the long probe of your sensor into the substrate, down to about three-quarters deep. Check the dial on your sensor to see the moisture levels. They are usually indicated in three different colors. The red color shows that the soil is dry, while green indicates good moisture levels; on the other hand, if the soil is toooo wet, then it is also indicated by a blue color.

The soil moisture sensor can either be portable or stationary. You can measure soil moisture at different positions using a portable sensor. The stationary sensor will be at a fixed location and depth. You must be very sure and detailed that the potting soil has uniform intensity when testing and avoid disturbing the inserted probe so that you get more accurate results.

– Finger Test

You can test soil water levels by poking your fingers into the soil. This method has zero cost, in addition to being easy and quick. Dip your finger two to three inches into the potting medium. Using this technique, you can feel how moist or dry the soil is, but it works perfectly in medium-sized pots.

Be sure to find a spot that makes it easy for you to access the bottom of the plant. As you do so, you will see how it helps you to test the moisture of the soil surrounding the roots of your plant. Once you reach the bottom, lift your finger out of the substrate and check the amount of stuck soil. If too much soil is stuck on your finger, it means there is adequate moisture.

Little to no stuck soil means the potting mix is dry enough to be watered again. When the soil is too dry, you may not be able to push your finger into the soil, as you will sense this moisture.

Once you experience this, water your potted plant immediately. If you have been wondering how to check moisture by hand, try the procedures once more, and you will check it just the same way but if the pot is big, you can gently press your hand and examine.

– Skewer Test

You can use a wooden skewer to check soil moisture. Unlike the moisture meter, the wooden skewer is strong as it does not break easily if dropped. Insert your skewer one to two inches into the soil for medium-sized pots, and ensure that you dip almost the whole skewer into the soil if your plant is in a larger pot.Skewer Test for Checking Moisture

When removing the skewer, in a slow manner, will be the key determiner. If the skewer comes out with damp soil stuck to it, you should not water your plant. Non-sticking soil that is dry shows that the plant is now thirsty and you, therefore, need to add more water.

If you test the soil moisture in the bigger pot and find out that two-thirds of the soil is dry, it’s a sign that it’s the right time to water. Do not worry about the wet, bottom part of the potting medium, as this wetness is sometimes out of reach for your plant. On the other hand, do not water when only one-third of the potting mix is dry because all the roots are still in moist soil.

– Chopstick or Pencil Method

You can check soil moisture with chopsticks or a sharpened pencil, and the benefit heree is that this method is cheap as pencils or chopsticks are usually readily available in homes. What you must do is to put your chopstick or pencil deep into the soil and let your tool sit in it for at least ten minutes, and this will ensure that the process is done in an accurate way.

After removing the chopsticks, check to see if it has soaked up some moisture. If yes, then the plants need not be irrigated because the soil would still be wet. A dry stick indicates that there is little to no moisture, hence the need to water your plants.

– Watering Indicator Sticks

You can buy plant watering indicator sticks to test the moisture in the soil. Push the sharp point into the soil. Leave the indicator in the soil so that it will tell you when the soil is dry. The indicator will turn red when there is no moisture.Watering Indicator Sticks

When you irrigate the plant, the indicator will show a blue window display after two hours. The process continues, so you are always reminded to water when necessary, and this will indicate in such a quick way.

– Testing the Pot’s Weight

This is the commonly used method in nurseries where they have so many plants. You can check if your plant needs water or not by lifting the pot. Note that if the pot is heavy, it means the potting mix is still wet; however, if the pot is lighter, this shows that it’s time to irrigate your plant.

For this method to be effective, you should lift the pot soon after watering. You should also lift the container more frequently so that you can notice the differences in weight. Doing this process regularly makes you get used to the technique, thereby increasing its accuracy.

– Pay Attention to Your Plants

Paying attention to your plants can make plant care easier than you imagine. Do not neglect your plants; otherwise, their health can deteriorate, and they will become weaker and lose their color also. Check your plant daily or after every two days so that you can notice any changes. If you do so, you can easily identify that your plant is showing some signs of wilting.

If your plant is not infected by any disease or pest but showing some signs of wilting, water it. Alterations in plant parts communicate the need for watering or not. Regular checks can also help you to see if you over- or underwater your plant. Doing the same thing repeatedly can let the result be given in a more accurate way, and you may end up having an irrigation schedule for all your plants without noticing.

– Use the Soil Moisture Meters

The principle of electrical resistance applies when using the moisture meter. The moisture meter is used to measure the conductivity of the soil to see if there is a high or low moisture content in the potting mix.Using the Soil Moisture Meters

Remember that the higher electrical currents on the soil meter indicate that the substrate has high moisture content. But when the currents are lower on the moisture meter, the  electrical currents show that the potting medium is dry.

Push four-fifths of the metal probe gently into the potting mix to get the results, and you must wait for 30 to 60 seconds for the moisture meter reading to appear. If there is nothing on the moisture meter after the maximum time, remove, clean it, and try another spot. The moisture meters accurate results are shown on the display window, and they are easy to interpret.

A numerical scale on a display window of the moisture meter shows the dry-to-wet readings. There are also different colors and numbers that assist you in interpreting the results properly. Your indoor plant needs will then help you decide whether to water or wait a bit if the moisture meter reading is on the dry side. The moisture meters can also be used to test the soil pH and be sure to store them in a moisture-free place after using them.


You can now check soil moisture using different ways as explained in this article so that you may not over- or underwater your indoor plants. Here is a summary of the important ideas that we highlighted:

  • Check the soil moisture in your plants so that you can have a correct watering routine.
  • You should research if you get a new plant or start to own indoor plants to know their care needs. Different plants are cared for differently, so acquiring all the necessary information that guides the right way is important.
  • You can use natural methods of checking soil moisture like the use of fingers and lifting the pot to test how heavy or light it is.
  • If you want more accurate results that are less prone to human error, consider getting the soil moisture meters.
  • You can use a combination of moisture and pH meter gadget to test both.

You can now keep your plants healthy by watering them at the right time with the correct amount.

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