10 Houseplants that love water

Us protective plant parents can sometimes tend to over water our plant babies, so much so that some of us, yours truly, need a moisture meter to help them stay in check with how much they water their plants. This is important because, depending on where you are in the world and what your natural climate is, not all plants like to have wet feet and can end up dying from root rot. So I thought it would be a nice change to see what houseplants actually love water and can forgive our over caring ways.

 

1. Ferns

With few exceptions, ferns love water and humidity, and by loving water, I mean that they do not mind being waterlogged, and most ferns found on the market today fall under the category of Do not let dry out! Also, if you love misting your plants, then look no further. A beautiful and unique example is the Davallia Fern or as it is also called the deer’s foot fern, hare’s foot fern, rabbit foot fern, with its furry rhizomes that resemble a tarantula. This type of fern is actually epiphytic and loves to attach itself to trees, so make sure that the feet do not dry out hence killing the fern.

General care guide:

  • Light: Best keep away from direct light since ferns can scorch; a north facing window or a shaded area of your house should be fine.
  • Water: Keep moist! When in doubt, use a moisture meter. Do not allow to dry out.
  • Humidity: High, somewhere between 50-80%. Best kept in a terrarium for ease of care.
  • Feeding: Not a heavy feeder, once a month with quarter straight balanced NPK plant food.

 

2. Spider Plants

Spider plants are amazing, forgiving plants, and you know what else they are? Water lovers, the bigger it gets, the more water it will need. If you have ever grown one, then you know what I mean. Coming in all sort of styles and textures and being very easy to propagate thanks to its nature of producing many baby plants, it can be quite the heavy drinker in its active growing season.

General care guide:

  • Light: Bright indirect light for best performance and tons of babies.
  • Water: Keep moist! When in doubt, use a moisture meter. Drying out leads to brown tips and foliage die back.
  • Humidity: Will tolerate low humidity.
  • Feeding: Once a month, during active growth, with a balanced NPK fertilizer.

 

3. Disa orchids

Disa orchids are beautiful terrestrial orchids that love wet feet. Yep! Wet feet as in keep wet and in a saucer of water at all time. However, they are intolerant of excess salts and minerals, so the quality of water is also very important.

Native to Central and South Africa, they naturally live in an environment, where they enjoy free-flowing water and bright indirect light, just perfect for those of us who are hands-on when it comes to their plants.

General care guide:

  • Light: Bright indirect light or full sun.
  • Water: Wet, must never allow to dry out. The water should be changed weekly in order to avoid bacterial or fungal infections. Use only distilled, filtered or RO (Reverse osmosis) water hence disa orchids are sensitive to excess salts and chlorine.
  • Humidity: High in ideal conditions.
  • Feeding: During the growing season with your preferred orchid food.
  • Soil: Sphagnum moss.

For a more comprehensive guide to disa orchids, I invite you to check out Rachel Darlington’s video (Gardening at Douentza, Jun 18, 2015 – Disa Orchid Careon how she grows these fantastic orchids. Just follow the link and maybe subscribe to one of my favorite unglamorous gardeners 😀

4. Carnivorous plants


Carnivorous plants like Venus flytraps, Sarracenias and Drosera capensis are bog plants, so they need exactly that, a bog-like environment where they stay wet all the time. However, just like disa orchids, they need quality water because they are sensitive to salt accumulation. Oh, and they also need a winter dormancy in order to survive and thrive, ergo in the winter time keep them somewhere no lower than 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit).
General care guide:

  • Light: Full sun.
  • Water: Wet, must never allow to dry out. Use only distilled or pure rainwater.
  • Humidity: High since they are bog plants.
  • Feeding: They feed on insects (especially fungus gnats), no need to fertilize.
  • Soil: Peat – because pH matters with these babies.

 

5. Peace Lily

Native to the tropical regions of the Americas and Asia, the humble and forgiving Peace Lily, has come back into fashion numerous times since its first introduction into Europe in the 19th century. Despite the common name of Peace Lily, the Spathiphyllum genus is part of the Araceae (Arum) family, not Liliaceae. With its beautiful flower-like leaves (spathes) and dark green foliage that has captivated many, it’s no surprise that it is always in fashion.

General care guide:

  • Light: No direct sun.
  • Water: Abundant.
  • Humidity: High, somewhere between 60-80%. Keep away from drafts.
  • Feeding: Not a heavy feeder, once a month with quarter straight balanced NPK plant food.
  • Soil: Any low on nutrients soil, because too much fertilizer can lead to leaf burn.
  • Toxicology: Insoluble calcium oxalate (mild toxicity), keep out of reach of pets and children.

Check out our article HOUSEPLANTS & CATS: 5 HACKS FOR A STRESS-FREE INDOOR JUNGLE for some pet proofing tips.

 

6. Fittonia


Native to the rain forest of South America (Peru) and named after its founders, botanists Elizabeth and Sarah May Fitton, the commonly known nerve plant is a stunning beauty which loves moisture. If you have ever owned one, you know they are quite entertaining when it comes to watering them after a short period of drought (and I do mean short): the plant droops and looks wilted only to spontaneously come back to life after a good drink of water.

General care guide:

  • Light: Bright, indirect sun.
  • Water: Frequent, do not allow the soil to dry out.
  • Humidity: High in ideal conditions, however, they are forgiving to low humidity.
  • Feeding: Once a month during active growth, with a balanced NPK fertilizer.

 

7. Vanda orchids

Love a statement plant? Then, Vanda orchids are perfect for you! Found in tropical areas such as Southeast Asia, Indo-China, New Guinea, Australia, and the Philippines, according to the AOS, these orchids love warm weather, lots of water and plenty of sunlight. They bloom once or twice a year depending on your climate and care, and many varieties such as the Vanda denisoniana are also highly fragrant.

Quick clarification:  the Vanda alliance is huge, and it has recently been revised.

Many familiar genera are now included in Vanda.[..] Among those now included in Vanda are AscocentrumChristensoniaEuanthe and Neofinetia. AOS, R.F. Orchids, Inc. – 8/2007 – www.rforchids.com – Vanda

For the purpose of this article, I am mainly referring to large flowering vandas such as Euanthe, Ascocenda (now reclassified as Vanda) and Denisoniana, just to name a few.

An important fact about vandas is that they are epiphytes, meaning that they grow upon other plants such as trees which they use for physical support, which provides access to sunlight and the nutrients available from leaf and other organic debris.

Note: Epiphytic orchids are not parasitic – a parasitic plant obtains its nutrition from another plant (the host) without contributing to the benefit of the host. In the case of Epiphytic orchids, the relationship does not harm the plant it attaches to. This relationship is defined as Commensalism. 

Commensalism, in biology, a relationship between individuals of two species in which one species obtains food or other benefits from the other without either harming or benefiting the latter. Adam Augustyn, (n.d), Encyclopaedia Britannica – Commensalism

I know it is an old myth, but one I felt the need to revisit and debunk since the relationship here is one of Symbiosis, it’s important to know that it is a commensalistic one, not a parasitic one, but i digress.

General care guide:

  • Light: Plenty of bright light, however, if you live in a desert-like climate it might be best to protect her from the hot afternoon sun. Also, introduce the plant gradually to the light, as to avoid scorching.
  • Water: Abundant. Soak once a day in a container of water for about an hour every day or if you are a little bit lazy like me soak overnight once every 4 days. The important thing is that the roots are well hydrated. Vanda orchids can handle drought but don’t overdo it.
  • Humidity: High in ideal conditions, however, they are forgiving to low humidity.
  • Feeding: Heavy feeder. Feed well during the growing season with your preferred balanced NPK orchid food, to ensure good healthy growth.
  • Soil: Epiphyte – Basket with little media such as large orchid bark or bare rooted.

 

8. Air plants


The Tillandsia genus, commonly known as air plants, due to their epiphytic nature, is a vast genus of over 500 species of plants that are part of the Bromeliaceae family aka the pineapple plant family. With so many ideas for displaying these beauties, they are sure to bring a pop of green to any home, no matter the aesthetic.

General care guide:

  • Light: Bright indirect light.
  • Water: Mist or submerge the plant in a bowl of water. Do not let water sit in the crown/leaves of the plant since it can lead to rot. So, make sure they dry out completely if you have displayed them in such a manner that water gets trapped between the leaves or in the crown.
  • Humidity: High in ideal conditions.
  • Feeding: During active growth with a specific air plant blend or I just use orchid food.
  • Soil: Epiphytic.

 

9. Hibiscus


Hibiscus are tropical plants that have fabulous blooms and the plant’s foliage isn’t too shabby either. They give an exquisite tropical flair to any home, thanks to the fact that they are easily grown in containers and mostly love the same temperatures as we do. However, they are big drinkers that also love a somewhat fast, wet-dry cycle.  What I mean by this is that while they require large amounts of water during their blooming stage, excellent drainage is a must, since they are prone to root rot if they stay too wet.  With that being said, make sure that your hibiscus has good drainage and prepare for daily watering during the warm seasons.

General care guide:

  • Light: Bring indirect light to full sun.
  • Water: Heavy drinker but ensure a fast wet-dry cycle.
  • Humidity: High in ideal conditions, however, they are forgiving to low humidity.
  • Feeding: Heavy feeders during active growth, hence these guys require a high concentration of nutrients to grow and produce those stunning blooms, we all know and love.
  • Soil: Fast-draining soil.

 

10. Calathea

Hi! Are you a member of the “I kill calatheas” club? Well, so was I until recently, when I finally got the hang of these beautiful, yet fussy divas. Like with most plants, the trick is replicating the natural environment they come from. In this case, a warm and humid environment, sheltered from bright direct sun. For a more comprehensive guide on Marantaceae care, we got you covered, with a full article on HOW TO NOT KILL YOUR CALATHEA.

 

 

General care guide:

  • Light: Bright indirect light to bright shade. If the plant reacts by curling its leaves or starting to flop, try moving it somewhere more shaded.
  • Water: Heavy. Water thoroughly but make sure that the pot has drainage, no one likes rotten roots. Use only distilled, filtered or RO (Reverse osmosis) water to avoid burning and yellowing of the leaves. Tap water that is left to sit overnight in order for the impurities to evaporate does not work, except if you live somewhere where your tap water is fresh mountain water.
  • Humidity: Depending on where you are in the world, you have the following options: a humidifier (we get really dry and hot summers here, so that works best for the plants), misting once or twice a day (I’d stick with the humidifier since the mist evaporates in 5 minutes), or you can place your plant on a tray of wet pebbles or use humidity mats. If you are lacking humidity, the dried up edges and curled up leaves, will let you know how you stand in that department.
  • Feeding: Stay away from salt heave or overly chemical fertilizers and focus more on natural supplements. By heavy in salts, I mean anything with too much Na (as in sodium) and Cl (chlorine), and we already covered why that is bad. The main nutrients that you should be focusing on are Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg) and potassium (K).
  • Soil: Any soil low on nutrients, because too much fertilizer can lead to leaf burn.

REFERENCES:

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