The simple answer is that if you’re having trouble knowing when to water your houseplants, then it’s time to buy a soil moisture sensor. These devices can be helpful to beginners and experts alike. Likewise, some houseplants have higher tolerances than others for underwatering and overwatering. If you stick to plants that are hard to kill and follow the basic care guidelines, you may never need one of these devices. If you’re trying to cultivate a houseplant that needs just the right soil moisture level, then a soil moisture sensor may be indispensable.
How to Use a Soil Moisture Sensor
In addition to knowing what type of plant you’re dealing with and watching for telltale signs, the surest way to follow the best watering practices is to measure the moisture level beneath the surface of the potting soil. The manufacturer will include their own instructions and tips. Most of today’s devices are digital and easy enough to insert in the plant’s potting soil. As a general rule, drought-resistant and low-water houseplants may wait until the soil is dry up to 2 inches or more below the surface. Moderate-water plants may be ready for more water when the soil is dry an inch into the surface. You can dial in these moisture readings, soil depths, and watering schedule even more by learning more about that specific type of houseplant. The bottom line is that soil moisture sensors can tell you how wet or dry the soil is underneath the surface, something that isn’t always possible just by looking, and this helps tell you when and how much to water the houseplant.
How Much Do Soil Moisture Sensors Cost?
You can buy a basic sensor with reasonable accuracy for as little as $10-$20. If it’s got a digital display and a few bells and whistles, it might cost $20-$35. You will also find soil moisture sensors for hundreds of dollars. These systems are designs for outdoor plants and soil monitoring, often with some type of wireless/Bluetooth technology as part of remote and automated control of the irrigation system.
There is a huge range of technologies and products to choose from. You can find modular components for self-engineered solutions. You can find automated plant watering systems with drip irrigation that you can pair with a soil moisture sensor. Arguably, the next generation of soil moisture meters is built-in sensors for smart houseplants pots. In fact, some of these smart pots and built-in plant sensors are already available as recently featured on Smart Home Scout.
Better Houseplant Care
Some people take a carefree attitude about their houseplants at first and then discover a passion that leads them to more nuanced plant care. Some people use moisture meters to get a sense of how often to water the plant before letting habit and experience serve as their guide in the future. Yet, because these devices aren’t very expensive, it’s not a bad idea to have a soil moisture sensor just in case you need it.