Overwatering is a leading cause of houseplant fatalities. Watering houseplants is fundamental to plant care, but giving a plant too much water or watering prematurely can severely impact the health and well-being of a plant. Here’s how to identify an overwatered houseplant and how to save your plant.
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Most plants absorb water through roots but need time to dry out between watering sessions. The extent the plant needs to dry out depends on the specific type. For instance, a snake plant needs to dry out more than a pothos. Healthy plants will have perky leaves with consistent color. Overwatered plants are stressed and will let you know things are not good.
How to Tell Your Plant Is Overwatered
Yellow tips on the foliage are the earliest sign of an overwatered plant. The leaves are the first to decline noticeably as a houseplant’s roots drown. The yellow stars at the tips, and if the problem is not addressed, the discoloration gradually moves closer to the stem, engulfing the entire leaf. The water-damaged foliage will eventually turn brown and die.
The entire plant will appear soft and limp in extreme cases of overwatering. The growth is so waterlogged that the whole plant becomes a floppy, mushy mess. The final method to confirm your plant is overwatered is to check the roots. Healthy roots should be white. Black or gray roots are indicators of root rot. Mold and fungus gnats are also signs of an overwatered plant.
Steps to Save an Overwatered Plant
- Stop Watering
The first thing to do when you realize your plant is drowning is to stop watering. Let the soil dry out and only water when the plant needs water. Feel the potting mix to gauge the dampness and learn when your specific plant is dry and needs water.
- Sunny Spot
Help the soil dry by moving the plant to a sunny spot. Plenty of light will help the soil dry more quickly but don’t overdo it. Be aware of the plant’s light needs, and do not give it more light than it can handle.
- Home Remedy
Fungus gnats are tiny pests that thrive in damp soil and often appear when plants are overwatered. These pests eat fungus that grows in overly wet soil. Treat fungus gnats by sprinkling cinnamon on the soil. Cinnamon is a natural fungicide, and applying cinnamon kills the fungus. No fungus means no more fungus gnats.
Consider repotting the plant in fresh soil to dry out more quickly. Remove the plant from the pot and brush away the dirt. Inspect the roots and trim any soft, mushy, discolored sections. Replant in fresh soil and use a container with drainage.
Most overwatered houseplants bounce back in a couple of weeks. Factors like sunlight and humidity will impact the recovery time. Monitor the plant and wait until the time is right before watering again.
Tips to Prevent Overwatered Plants
Learn how to properly water houseplants. Plants have different water needs, and some like damp conditions. Figure out what plants need and check the soil before watering. A moisture meter can help you gauge dryness. Choose an unglazed ceramic pot if you are prone to overwatering plants. Unglazed ceramic breaths and allows the soil to dry out more quickly. Try to avoid overwatering, but plants in unglazed ceramic will recover from too much water more quickly.