Overwatering (or underwatering) is one of the most common mistakes we make in plant care. Whether we have a green thumb or not, we can misjudge how much water we think our plants need — especially in hot weather or when we go in vacation.
However, excess water can drown or suffocate the roots, leading to root rot, fungal disease, or worst case, Plant dying. So how do you know you’re dealing with a plant that’s suffering from overwatering? Common signs to look out for include leaves yellowing or turning brown, wilting, and the soil can also look green due to algae growth.
Before you give up on your precious plants, check out these five tips to save an overwatered plant and ensure it has a long, healthy life.
1. Take a break from watering
First things first, you’ll need to hold off on giving him more water. If you continue to water a plant that is already overwatered, this can cause it to become waterlogged and increase the chances of root rot. You’ll need to let the soil dry out first, then adjust your watering schedule. Also, refrain from using fertilizers as this may kill the damaged/weak plant.
However, if there is standing water at the bottom, you will need to pour it out and make sure the pot drains well. “Start by draining the excess water from the pot and allow the plant to dry out on its own without watering it,” says Nick Wood, a garden designer from Gardening Express. “This may take a few days.” In general, you should only start watering when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch.
2. Let the plant dry
Allow overwatered plants to dry naturally. Ideally, move these planters to a shaded area, as the roots are unable to absorb enough water to keep your plant hydrated. “While letting your plant dry, make sure to place it in the shade as overwatered plants struggle to move water to the upper parts which can cause the top of the plant to dry out.”
Additionally, plants in shady locations tend to use less water. It is also advisable to gently tap the sides of the pot with your hands or a small shovel to loosen the plant and soil. By loosening the soil and roots, it can help create air pockets that will speed up the drying process. Keep in mind that it may take a few days to dry your plant, but you can move the plant back into the sun once its conditions return to normal.
3. Replant the plant
Once dry, it may be helpful to repot the plant to improve soil conditions and help it thrive after over-watering.
Wood suggests: “It is helpful to replant the plant in a better soil mix and in a pot that has suitable drainage holes. Before replanting, remove the old soil and remove rotten, brown, smelly roots.”
It is recommended to repot the plant in a mixture of free-draining compost with additional components of perlite or mesh to enhance drainage. “You should also prune any yellow or wilted leaves, as they will not recover and this energy can be directed to healthier parts of the plant. When you first repot the plant, pour water over the soil to moisten it, and then only water when the soil becomes dry.” .
Just make sure to avoid these 9 mistakes you make when replanting the plant To avoid exacerbating the problem!
4. Re-locate the plant
It is always best to move your overwatered plant to a shaded area. Although it may seem logical to move the plant to sunny areas to keep it dry, this may cause more damage.
A plant that is overwatered will have difficulty moving water to its upper leaves/flowers. Therefore there is a greater risk of drying of leaves due to evaporation in continuous sunlight.
Once the plant is moved to a shady location, it is best to remove any flowers or fruits facing upward, so it can focus its energy on the main root system and recover.
5. Give it more airflow
Another good tip to help an overwatered plant dry out is to increase airflow. Ideally, lift the plant out of the pot and place it on a shelf or suitable surface to air dry the soil around the root ball.
Additional airflow can help reduce excess moisture and can help dry out the soil. Once dried, the root ball can go back into the pot. This might also be a good opportunity to cut out any bad roots with one of these Best pruning shears. Unhealthy roots are usually brown or black, while healthy roots are white and thin.
If all goes well, you should start to see improvement within a week or two. Once the plant seems to be thriving again, you can move it to a sunny area and apply fertilizer again.
Tips for watering plants
Water the plant only when the top layer is dry to the touch. Alternatively, you can invest in a moisture meter such as the XLUX Long Probe Deep Use Soil Moisture Meter ($12, Amazon), to indicate the appropriate time to water the plants.
If possible, lift the plant pot and check its weight. This will indicate after a few times whether the bowl is heavy with water.
Make sure your pots have proper drainage holes in the bottom. This will allow the plants to drain easily and not become waterlogged.
Use bulbs or self-watering planters. The self-watering bulbs, in particular, are made of high-quality glass and can hold up to 150ml of water. Simply fill the bulb with water, make a small cavity in the soil, and insert the bulb next to the plant at a 60 to 75 degree angle. Watering bulbs such as the Miles Kimball 6-Piece Plant Watering Set ($18, Amazon), for indoor plants ideal watering for seven days.