One reason we cohabitate so happily together with our houseplants is because we share very similar air temperature “requirements.” Because most houseplants come from the tropics, our typical homes’ daytime air temperatures of 65-75 degrees F and nighttime temps of 55-65 degrees F tend to serve both our plants and ourselves comfortably.

Tempered water in jug

Fill a jug with tap water and let it sit overnight to reach room temperature.

Photo Credit: Diane Mays

But unlike us, tropical houseplants have water-temperature requirements that match their favored air temps. No steamy, hot showers in the winter or cool pool dips in the summer for them!

When watering houseplants, most of us just use the tap water that comes straight out of the kitchen faucet. Generally, though, this water comes out too chilly for tropical plants. So before giving your favorite philodendron that much-needed drink, make a temperature adjustment to ensure green-thumb growing. In other words, our mission – if we choose to accept it – is to “Temper That Tap Water!”

Watering tropical foliage plants with improper water temperatures can have shocking affects. If the water temps are too far below or too high above that 55- to 75-degree-F comfort range, the difference between a plant’s temperature and the water’s temperature can be too extreme. Water that’s too cold or too hot can shock plant cells, shut down water uptake and even kill the plant.

It’s best to water tropical houseplants with lukewarm or room-temperature water. You can run water from the faucet until it feels lukewarm to the touch, but a more water-wise solution is to fill a jug with water and just let it sit out overnight to bring it to room temperature. Once tempered, water each plant as needed.

Like us, plants have specific conditions in which they thrive. Watering tropicals with ice-cold water can produce a stunted plant and leave you with unattractive greenery. But once you know what your tropicals need, it makes growing them a cinch. A minor adjustment in water temperature truly will bring major results!