Overwatering is the most common killer of houseplants, even if we don’t mean to. Plants can’t survive without water, but they probably don’t need as much as you think they do. Here are a few signs to look out for if you suspect you have overdone it with the hydration and how to solve the issue.
Sign One: If your plant has been overwatered, it will likely develop yellow or brown, limp leaves and the pot will feel heavy due to soggy soil. However, if the plant leavers are looking dry and crisp crispy this is a sign of too little water. Plant leaves show distress by turning brown and they can also wilt, appear droopy and lifeless which usually means that root rot has set in, and the roots can no longer adsorb water.
Sign Two: Whilst plants can drop their leaves for many reasons, including shock from being moved or sudden temperature changes, overwatering is another prominent cause. If your plant is dropping old and new leaves, you’ve likely overwatered. Shredding leaves can be green, brown, or yellow.
Sign Three: If the base of the plant stem begins to feel mushy or unstable, it is a sign you have overwatered. The soil can even give off a rotten odor.
Sign Four: If your plant’s soil remains consistently damp from being overwatered, this can lead to mold growing and pests, not only on the surface but also on the plant as well.
How to fix an overwatered plant
If you’re pretty sure your plant has fallen victim to accidental overwatering, don’t worry. It can be revived in some (but not all) cases.
Stop watering your plant – Allow any excess water to drain away into a saucer or through the drainage holes of your pot and give the soil time to dry out.
Move your plant to a shady area – Move your plant to a shady area even if it is a full-sun plant. When your plant is overwatered, it struggles to transport water to its upper leaves. As a result, the top part of the plant can dry out if left in the sun.
Gently loosen the plant and soil – Use your hand or a small trowel to gently tap the sides of the plant pot. Do this several times on different sides to loosen the soil and roots. This can create air pockets that will help the roots dry out.
Try the newspaper trick – Remove the plant from its original pot, carefully place the root ball onto some old newspaper to absorb excess water. You may need to change newspapers a few times until it has removed as much water as possible.
How to water your plants in the future
Next time, let the soil tell you when it needs water. Try pushing your finger about two inches deep below the surface of the soil, and if it feels moist, wait a few more days and check again. If the soil is dry, water until it flows freely from the bottom of the pot and remove any excess or standing water.
The other thing to think about is sunlight, all houseplants need natural sunlight to survive, but how much sunlight plants need, depends entirely on the individual plant. To ensure your house plants receive enough natural sunlight, turn off your light to see how much natural sunlight fills the room where your houseplants live – plants cannot feed off bulb light, so make sure your room is receiving enough light.
Water the compost so that it is moist, using a thin spout watering can will make it easier to control the amount of water given. Increase the humidity around the plant by misting the leaves and aerial roots twice to three times a week, reducing the frequency to once a week in winter months. To keep your plants in peak condition, check the specific advice for each one to ensure you are giving it all the requirements it needs to flourish.
If you are planning a staycation or going away for business you can purchase a holiday watering cone, which can be inserted into the plant pot soil. This will distribute a steady and reliable amount of water to keep your plant hydrated while you are away.
House plants can seem a bit daunting if you are not very green fingered or have had a bad experience before. With our top 5 of (almost) unkillable houseplants you cannot go wrong. Take a look at our top 5 here.