It's easy, mess-free, and works with a variety of plants. Here's how you can do it at home.

By Jennifer Aldrich
November 24, 2020
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Social media can be an excellent tool for learning new things. Yes, books, the internet, and experts are useful too, of course, but sometimes I see something on social networking sites that completely enlightens me on techniques and information that I've never seen or read about before. Recently, I came across a popular video on TikTok (it has more than 600,000 likes) of someone watering potted plants in an interesting way. Before you roll your eyes and think how different can it be than tipping a watering can over various containers, prepare to be amazed by this different take on hydrating your houseplants.

In the clip, Hilda, a TikTok user who's developed a passion for gardening during the pandemic, sets an assortment of potted plants, including mint, anthurium, English ivy, and various cacti and succulents, in a container filled with a few inches of water. (The tub is slightly larger than the pots the plants are in.) The mesmerizing timelapse shows that each one soaks up the perfect amount of water almost as if by magic. Many people have commented on the video revealing their amazement, including one person who writes, "I feel like I've just learned a really high-level gardening secret."

Intrigued, I decided to test this out on my Thanksgiving cactus and one of my succulents. And yes, this method worked like a charm. But how, exactly? After doing a little digging, here's what I discovered.

This technique is known as bottom watering. The potting soil basically acts like a sponge and draws the water into the tiny spaces between soil particles like a straw. This method works best on smaller houseplants you can easily move around. They need to be in a pot with a drainage hole so the water can get through to the soil. Just like Hilda's video shows, all you do is place your potted plant in a few inches of water. Wait about 10 minutes, and you'll notice the water level will have dropped as the soil absorbed moisture. Then move your plant back to wherever you like to keep it.

Bottom watering is super easy (if I can do it; anyone can) and is less messy than carrying around a dripping watering can around your house. It's also harder to overwater your plants this way because the soil will only absorb what it can hold. And you won't have to worry about splashing water onto sensitive leaves like those of African violets and many succulents. So, the next time you need to give your houseplants some love, give this technique a try.

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