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How To Know You're Overwatering (And Tips To Avoid It)

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

“I have never overwatered my plants,” said no gardener ever!

Most gardeners are reluctant to admit that overwatering is to blame for their plants' droopiness, yellowing leaves, and lack of growth, but the real tea is that we have all been guilty of being too hands-on with the watering can from time to time. Plant growth can be pretty monotonous, so watering gives us a feeling that we are actively involved.

It's a good idea to make sure that your garden pots always have many drainage holes

Being vigilant about when you have fallen into an overwatering habit might just help you save your prized plants.

We'll share some tips on how to water properly, how to break that habit and spot signs of overwatering before they become tragic stories.

How to water your plants properly

1. Water plants deeply, making sure all their roots get enough water. One tip is to give your plants a bit of water, allow it to soak into the soil, and loosen it up. Come back after a few minutes and give them a deep drink.

2. Focus your watering on the roots of the plants (the bottom) rather than the leaves. The roots need the water, not the leaves. You can rinse off your leaves from time to time to prevent pests.

3. As much as possible, water in the morning before the sun gets hot in the sky. This is so the soil can and leaves can dry out with the day’s sun and won’t harbor any pests or diseases over the night.

How to know you’re overwatering

Most gardeners know to look out for limp, yellowing leaves as a sign of watering, but what if you can spot those problems before they started affecting your plants?

There are no hard and fast rules, but the observant gardener should look out for:

1. Cloudy, whitish growth on the soil around the stem of your plants. You may also observe moss, mushrooms, algae, mold, and fungus gnats. These are signs that the soil is waterlogged and hosting potentially fatal plant diseases.

2. Bad smells coming from your plants or their soil. This is different from the smell of compost.

3. Potting mix not drying out at all days after watering? You are on your way to overwatering that plant! This is subjective to how hot it gets in your region and where your plant is located, but you should always look out for dense potting mix that just doesn’t dry out and keeps the roots of your plants sitting in wet soil.

Remember, even for water-loving plants, the soil should be moist, not wet.

Tips to survive overwatering

It's a good idea to make sure that your garden pots always have many drainage holes, especially if you upcycle them yourself.

Self-watering containers take the responsibility of watering completely away from you. All you have to do is refill the reservoir when it runs low and let the setup do the rest for you.

You can wait for the soil to dry out and adjust your watering schedule, but you might have to completely change out the soil of your plants if you notice that they are suffering from the effects of overwatering. You can start all over with a new potting mix and make it airy and light enough for the roots to thrive.

Root rot is a common consequence of overwatering. The only solution to root rot is to completely change out the plants’ soil and remove the parts of the root that have been affected. Allow the plant’s roots to dry out before replanting in the new potting mix.

Disinfect all the tools you use to deal with a case of root rot so it doesn’t spread to your other plants.


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