Keeping your plants hydrated Soil & Solder
First things first, water preparation is key. I always leave my water for 24 hours before use, this gives the chlorine in your water supply time to evaporate. Chlorine kills beneficial bacteria and enzymes in the Ryzoshere of your substrate. It also brings the water down to room temperature. Using freezing cold water can send your plants into shock.
After a while, soil can become very solid, and as most of us grow in terracotta pots, these can absorb a lot of moisture. You will sometimes notice with age of soil it will begin to pull away from the pot and portray a gap. When this happens, watering your plant can become a waterfall down the inside gap between the pot and soil and straight out the bottom - meaning your plant is getting nothing it wants! When this happens I get a chopstick or similar and poke the stick in the soil several times, breaking up the soil and allowing water to pour down into the holes. This also allows the water to pull down oxygen to the roots for a longer lasting and stronger plant (it's also a good way to help you to not over-water your plant - but more on that in a minute). Another method is to fill up a bucket and sit the plant in it overnight. This will soften the soil and give your plant the much needed water it requires.
Overwatering your plants
We all love to over care, becoming very attached to our plants, and often wanting to work with them more than necessary. Sometimes you will notice the top of your soil is dry and you will straight away add water, whereas the danger is, it can be sodden underneath. Simply grab your chopstick, and drive the stick into the soil. When you remove it, you will either be faced with a stick covered in wet soil (which shows its still damp underneath) or completely dry. It's the same as checking if the inside of your sponge cake is cooked! So now you know what’s going on inside the soil.
Creating the perfect soil mix
I won't go too crazy into this, as I could type for hours. But I’ve always liked to play around with different soil substrates and mixing my own. I mostly use a mix of organic grow soils, with a perlite and orchid bark (and maybe a bit of coco substrate). I sometimes use some sphagnum moss to hold a bit of moisture, the faster it drains, the better. Some people grow in straight coco substrate. This takes much more care, as it is a form of hydroponic. Coco holds 6 times as much water as soil, but it helps to hold the plant in place. When feeding, you will need to pH your water for the roots to be able to absorb the feed - if it's too alkaline or acidic, it will reject what it needs.
Last but not least. Using plant feed during the summer period is beneficial. When buying new soil, plants will usually include around 6 weeks of feed - after that your soil will then need a boost from yours truly. I feed my plants around every 2 to 3 weeks to help keep roots healthy, leaves nice and green and stems strong!
All the best with your plants!