Signs of Overwatering Plants

We’ve all been there. To give our beloved houseplants the best care, we sometimes go a little overboard with the watering can. Overwatering plants is a common issue, and recognizing the signs of overwatering plants can help you adjust your care routine to keep your greenery thriving. Let’s look at the signs that your plants might be getting too much water and what you can do to save them.

Yellowing Leaves

One of the most noticeable signs of overwatering is yellowing leaves. When a plant receives too much water, its roots can become waterlogged, preventing them from absorbing oxygen and nutrients effectively. This often results in leaves turning yellow, starting from the lower leaves and moving upwards. If you notice this happening, it’s time to check your watering schedule and make adjustments.

Wilting Despite Moist Soil

It might seem counterintuitive, but overwatered plants can wilt just like underwatered ones. This was very surprising to me! My fiddle leaf fig tree was wilting and much to my surprise it was due to overwatering instead on underwatering. If your plant is drooping and the soil feels wet to the touch, overwatering is likely the culprit. The excess water in the soil can suffocate the roots, leading to wilting as the plant struggles to get the oxygen it needs.

Root Rot

Root rot is a more severe sign of overwatering. It occurs when roots sit in waterlogged soil for too long, leading to decay. You might notice a foul smell from the soil, or if you gently lift the plant from its pot, you’ll see black, mushy roots. Root rot is a critical condition and needs immediate attention. Trim away the affected roots and repot the plant in fresh, well-draining soil to give it a chance to recover.

Mold and Fungus Growth

Mold and fungus thrive in moist environments, so if you’re overwatering, you might see white, fuzzy mold on the soil surface or fungal growth on the plant itself. This is a clear indicator that the soil is staying too wet. Ensure your plant is in a pot with proper drainage, and allow the top layer of soil to dry out between waterings to help prevent mold and fungus growth.

Slow Growth and No Growth

Healthy plants should show signs of growth, especially during their active growing season. If your plant seems to have stalled, it could be due to overwatering. Consistently wet soil can hinder a plant’s ability to absorb the nutrients necessary for growth, leading to stunted development. Adjusting your watering habits can help your plant get back on track.

How to Fix Overwatering

Now that we’ve covered the signs of overwatering plants, let’s talk about how to fix it.

Check Your Watering Schedule

Start by evaluating how often you water your plants. Most houseplants do better with a “less is more” approach, although it is important to get on some type of schedule so you don’t forget entirely. Allow the top inch or so of soil to dry out before watering again. Different plants have different needs, so it’s helpful to research the specific requirements of each type.

Improve Drainage

Ensure your plant pots have drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. You can also add a layer of gravel or small stones at the bottom of the pot to improve drainage. Using well-draining soil mixes specifically designed for houseplants can also make a big difference.

Adjust Humidity Levels

Sometimes, what appears to be overwatering might actually be an issue with humidity. If your home is very humid, the soil may retain moisture longer. I have noticed this to be the case in our home because we live in an area with lots of trees and moisture. Consider using a dehumidifier or placing plants in less humid areas of your home.

Repot When Necessary

If root rot has set in, repotting your plant in fresh, dry soil is essential. Trim off any rotted roots with clean scissors and choose a pot that isn’t too large. A smaller pot can help the soil dry out more quickly between waterings.

Overwatering is a common mistake, but it’s one that can be corrected with a little attention and care. By recognizing the signs of overwatering plants and adjusting your care routine accordingly, you can ensure your houseplants stay healthy and happy. Remember, a little patience and observation go a long way in the world of plant care.

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