Anyone who’s forgotten to hire a plant-sitter while on vacation knows what can happen to a thirsty plant when left alone too long. It’s common knowledge: plants need water! But is it possible to go too far in the other direction and over-hydrate your houseplants?
The simple answer – yes! Desert plants and succulents may spring to mind, but even thirstier, leafier plans have their limits when it comes to water. Your houseplants are living things – that’s probably why you love them! But it also means they’re susceptible to the ailments of organic matter, such as mold, mildew, and fungus growth. Overwatering plants help create the necessary moist conditions for such problems, among other issues.
Luckily, watering your plants properly comes down to a few simple rules:
Different Plants Have Different Needs
While all living things need some water, a plant’s anatomy, native climate, and current home all make a huge difference in that plant’s hydration needs. That rain-loving fern in the corner is going to be a lot thirstier than the desert-thriving succulents on the windowsill, for example. Even your method of watering – pouring into the soil or into “cupped” leaves, or spraying directly onto flowers – is subject to your plant’s preferences. Read labels and do your research whenever buying or inheriting new houseplants.
Watch the Timing of Your Watering
While type of plant may also play a role here, it’s generally best to water your plants in the morning. Watering at night increases the risk of mold and rot.
It’s All About Drainage
Make sure your plants’ pots drain properly. Something with drainage holes in the bottom and a tray to catch excess water is ideal, to prevent soggy (or moldy!) roots.
When in Doubt, Get Your Hands a Little Dirty
The “finger test” is a simple, quick way to check on your plant’s hydration. Dip a finger into your plant’s soil – the top one to two inches, no more, should feel moist. If that top layer is dry, it’s probably time for a watering!
Keep an Eye on Your Plants
Following the above rules as well as possible can do a lot in the way of prevention, but regular monitoring is also key.
So how can you tell if what you’re doing is working? Below, we’ll run through some of the signs of overwatering to look out for:
Common Signs of Overwatering
- The pot feels too heavy
- The plant is wilting but the soil isn’t dry
- Leaves have turned brown or yellow
- EDMA, otherwise known as blister or wart-like “lesions” on the leaves caused by water-logged cells (yes, you can hurt your plant!)
- Soft, rotten roots
- Mildew, mold, or fungus in the soil or on the plant
So you’ve noticed one or two of the above signs of overwatering. All is not lost! If you act quickly – and if the damage hasn’t progressed too far – you can give your houseplant a fighting chance.
Emergency Care After Overwatering Plants
- Tip the pot to let out excess water.
- Consider repotting your plant, particularly to a pot with better drainage.
- Move your plant to a warmer location or a place with more sunlight to allow the water to evaporate.
- Let the plant go a while without water.
Overwatering plants is an easy mistake to make when trying to avoid under-hydration. No one wants to come home to a brown, wilting ficus! The good news is, at The Bouqs Co., we’re here to help you give your favorite orchid or succulent exactly the kind of attention it needs. If you’re going on taking a trip, we can help you with vacation plant care. Want some plants for a humid environment, read about the best bathroom plants.
Of course, if you’ve just lost too many hydration battles with your beloved houseplants, you can always console yourself with a fresh-cut, hand-curated Bouq instead.Shop All