How to Use Moisture Meter For Plants

One of your best friends when it comes to watering your indoor plants is using a soil moisture meter.

These small handheld devices can make your life much easier as they measure the soil’s moisture content to indicate whether you need water plants.

Potted plants prefer not to stand in waterlogged soil, leading to root rot. So, keeping your houseplants happy and healthy is the most challenging part.

Both over and underwatering are the main reasons houseplant beginners fail to keep their plants thriving. Thus identifying how much water a plant needs is not always easy until things go wrong!

Different Factors Need to be Considered to Keep Plants Happy

How often you water a plant’s soil comes down to different factors. Hence, it all depends on the following:

  • The type of houseplants you have.

  • The soil conditions are well-draining, and drainage holes allow excess moisture.

  • What time of the year is it as you water houseplants more in summer than winter?

  • Then it would be best if you thought about the humidity and temperature, to name a few, that impact your watering schedule to not result in even death.

While you can determine the moisture levels in the soil by pressing one to two ✌ fingers in the soil, it only measures the moisture a few inches down. Hence, you do not get an accurate reading of the moisture content in the container.

Thus, using a simple and affordable device like a meter probe can help you decide if more moisture is needed to prevent plant issues down the line. So, check out this mini moisture meter while here if you do not have one.

You can use common houseplants to remove the guesswork from watering when it comes to plant care.

You will benefit from accurate readings to know when your plants are dehydrated or if the moisture level is still correct.

You can be a more confident plant parent to have happier plants.

What Is a Soil Moisture Meter?

mositure meter

A soil moisture meter takes out the guesswork about when to water your plants. It is a small hygrometer measuring the water around the root ball.

The soil moisture meter is easy to use and typically has two metal probes you push down into the soil and provide a moisture reading.

Hence, you need not be a green-thumbed plant parent to ensure your plants remain healthy.

Why Use Soil Moisture Meters?

If you are planting parents struggling to water 💦 your houseplants correctly, the meter reading is handy to prevent under or overwatering, leading to soggy soil and root rot.

Thus, you can avoid these common mistakes mentioned earlier. Furthermore, you can prevent stunted growth as the handy tool removes the guesswork of watering.

The added benefit is that the probe reaches further down into the soil than your fingers, and the reading is accurate.


How Does a Soil Moisture Meter Work?

The device works on the principle of electrical resistance as it measures the conductivity of the plant’s soil.

  1. Put the probe into the soil as water conducts electricity.

  2. Hence, the soil moisture meter will measure the moisture content in the soil.

  3. So, with a high moisture level, the higher the electrical current will be; the opposite happens with a lower moisture level.

You can find some moisture meters that can read the light conditions to the soil pH of your houseplants. These are called three-way meters.

Using a Metal Probe Moisture Meter

  1. Start by gently pushing the meter in the soil about ⅘. If you meet resistance, remove it and try another spot to avoid damaging the root ball.

  2. Then wait for up to 60 seconds for a reading. If you do not see any reading after 60 seconds, remove it and wipe the probe clean to give it another try in a different location.

  3. Depending on your model, they are easy to read. You may see the moisture reading displayed in a window using a numerical scale or a scale of dry to wet.

  4. These are color-coded scales for added clarity. Some can have a blue zone for water and orange to red, giving you a dry reading, but it all depends on your type.

Interpreting The Moisture Meter Reading

soil moisture meter

Now that you placed the meter in the soil and received a reading, what now? Next, you must understand the different readings to take the guesswork out of watering.

So, will your houseplants need water as you have drier soil, or are the moisture levels soggy? Well, now that you have a moisture meter as a plant parent, the moisture meter will not tell you if you need to water your plant’s soil.

You must know your plant’s needs to determine if you need water. For different houseplants, the results of reading on the dry end can mean different things.

For example, if you grow cacti or succulents, they are happy with drier soil and can wait a bit before watering if they are not standing in direct sunlight for too long.

But for a philodendron or pothos, dry soil means you need to water them.

While ferns to calatheas can sit in wet soil without any problem, understand your plants’ needs as plant parents to know when to water them.

Cleaning and Storing Soil Moisture Meters

Once you use a soil moisture meter and determine if you need to water, remove the soil by wiping the probes down with a clean and dry cloth.

You should never leave your soil meter in the soil as it will degrade the probe. Then store your moisture meter in a dry location.

Common Problems With Soil Moisture Meters

Most of the time, a handheld meter is reliable and straightforward. But you can find some common problems using moisture meters.

  1. The first concern is that when you press it into the soil, you may not receive the best results from the soil moisture meter reading after 60 seconds in the ground.

  2. If this happens, remove the meter, wipe it clean with a dry cloth, and try again but in a different place.

  3. Also, never submerge the probes in water to see if they work, as it is designed to work in the soil only.

  4. Another concern is when the needle bounces around in the display window and is not set; the probe picks up something like a small rock or some metal.

  5. Remove the soil moisture meter and try it in another container area.

For this reason, it is essential to know that a soil moisture meter always works by measuring the electrical currents in the soil.

So, you have an inaccurate reading if there is a high salt content. Still, if you feel unsure your plant’s water in the soil is wrong, use that finger test we discussed.

You might also want to read our article Indoor Gardening with Hydroponics for more optimized indoor plant watering.

Frequently Asked Questions

On certain moisture meters, you find a sensor on the tip to place into the soil. For houseplants in a shallow planter, place the tip 2/3 of the way down; the same applies to a small pot. Place the sensor in the soil as far as possible for deeper containers or garden beds.

Once you have used the soil moisture meter, remove all the soil from the probes by wiping it down with a dry clean cloth. Then store it in a dry location between uses.

The optimal moisture content for houseplants to crops depends on your plant species. But most of the time, it is between 20% and 60%.

When you have a zero value on a moisture meter, it is very dry, while one means it is very wet, and consistently moist soil can lead to complications for most plants. A value of 0.54 is an optimum moisture level for your plant to grow. While values below 0.2 and above 0.8 can indicate drought or excess moisture.

Plant owners can benefit from using a soil moisture meter, which is exceptionally helpful for new plant owners as it determines how much moisture is in the soil and whether houseplants need watering.

Different plants need different moisture levels, and if your plant care requires moisture but is not waterlogged, you can add organic material like peat moss, compost, or coconut coir to the mix. For most houseplants, ensure the soil drains well and provides enough drainage for the excess water to drain away from the root ball.

Whether you want to buy, sell, or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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