Overwatering Vs Underwatering
One of the most common houseplant problems occurs when the plant is overwatered. However, it is difficult to distinguish between a plant overwatered and an overwatered plant. Knowing whether you underwater or overwater your houseplants is essential if you want to keep them alive and healthy. How to distinguish the two is the topic of this article, and how to fix both is shown in the instructions.
If you underwater plants, the soil will feel dry, but the plant will improve once it is re-watered. Dry leaves, brown tips, leaf drop, wilting, and curling are all signs that you under-watered the plants. The symptoms of overwatering are yellow leaves, brown tips, wilting and withering despite wet soil. In addition, root rot may be a result of underwatering.
How to distinguish between overwatering and underwatering, as well as the prevention of both, is explained in this article. I will explain why both conditions are bad for houseplants, give tips on fixing a plant in trouble and share some of my favorite plants that tolerate being over or underwatered.
What Is Wrong With My Plant?
It is important to feel the soil first if your plants seem unhappy but aren’t sure if they have been overwatered or underwatered. An underwater plant will always show signs of dry soil. Underwatering occurs when the soil is completely dry.
If you spot signs of underwatering in your plant and the soil feels dry, you should water it and monitor its response throughout the next 12-24 hours. An underwatered plant will respond by looking healthier and recovering from wilting.
The plant appears to be both over watered and underwatered if it displays the symptoms of both at the same time. Damage from overwatering is the result of prolonged moisture in the soil, which remains after the soil dries out.
It is better to look at the conditions your plant is grown in, rather than trying to water it and see if it responds, to find out for sure if you can determine the problem.
In the next section we will provide step-by-step instructions so that you can correctly conduct a diagnosis of your plant and resolve the issue.
What Is Overwatering?
A plant with excessively wet, soggy conditions is considered to be over-watered, which occurs due to a lack of proper drainage. It’s easy to overwater plants by watering too much and growing them in conditions that cause the soil to stay too wet for a long time.
When plants overwater, they can’t access oxygen for them to survive, which leads to the root system becoming unhealthy. Many people are surprised to learn that most plants need oxygen on their roots to survive. But they need a steady supply of oxygenated air delivered through the airspace within the soil if they are to breathe.
Respiration is the process where plants convert sugars from photosynthesis into energy, together with oxygen, in order to grow and flourish.
The roots is essentially starved of oxygen, leaving them weak and vulnerable. This in turn makes them incapable of functioning properly, supplying water and nutrients to the rest of the plant, as well as suffering from diseases.
Signs Of Overwatering
- Yellowing of lower leaves
- New leaves develop brown tips
- The plant stops growing
- Wilting that doesn’t resolve after watering
- Offensive smell from the soil Dry soil
- Mushy, black/brown roots
- Leaf edema in early stages
- Leaf curling can occur
How To Prevent Overwatering
You can avoid overwatering your plants by following a number of simple but important rules;
A good lighting environment is essential in order for plants to grow and utilize available water efficiently. Even plants that grow well in low lighting conditions still grow better in bright conditions.
The soil should have a good drainage system. Add inorganic matter to your potting soil, such as perlite, lime, or gravel to aid drainage. Waterings should soak into the soil immediately.
Warmer temperatures are better than cool ones since they provide for greater evaporation and plant growth, so use less water.
Large pots with too much soil will take longer to dry out after watering. Keeping your plants in small pots will keep them using all of the water in the soil fairly quickly.
Pick pots with lots of drainage holes. Choose pots that have drainage holes right at the bottom. Add more drainage holes if needed.
Before watering, always check the soil for dampness, pot weight and signs of water stress.
Make use of porous pots such as Terracotta pots since they can hold water through their walls, allowing the soil to dry out more quickly.
How To Fix Overwatering
It is most important to identify the early signs of the disease and take steps to change your plant’s environment, as outlined above.
The following steps will help you regain control of your plant. If your plant is showing symptoms of overwatering, or if you suspect root decay, you will need to take more drastic measures.
You can remove the plant from the pot by gently sliding it up and down.
Make sure the roots are in good condition. Rotten roots are usually black or brown, fragile, mushy, and may smell bad. Healthy roots are typically light brown, and firm to the touch.
Make sure your pruning shears are sterile before and after you cut off any rotten roots. Sanitize the shears afterwards to keep nasty bugs from infecting your other plants.
When you notice root rot, remove all of the soil from the plant. Remove the soil most gently with your fingers and rinse the remainder off.
Use diluted hydrogen peroxide spray to spray the roots. This will be harmless to the plant, but kill any pathogens.
Your plant needs to be repotted into a clean, clean pot with new, well-draining soil.
Try to adhere to the care conditions your plant likes best. Moderate lighting is better than too much or too little lighting until your plant recovers.
Observing the symptoms of a plant as well as the environment around it ensures that it is not being overwatered.
What Is Underwatering?
Underwatering can be caused by not providing enough water for your plant to meet its needs and remain healthy, or by excessive water loss from the plant caused by its environmental conditions.
Signs Of Underwatering
- Leaf drop
- Brown tips affecting many leaves
- Slow growth and smaller leaves
- Wilting that improves after watering
- Leaves feel papery and thin
- Some yellowing, followed by browning leaves
- Leaf curling happens earlier
How To Prevent Underwatering
The good news is, there are a few easy ways to keep your plants from becoming underwater.
Plants that become rootbound very soon usually increase their water use very quickly, so gently peel them out of their pots and repot to a larger container if you suspect that they have become rootbound.
Avoid exposure to high temperatures or warm drafts – Hot climatic conditions can greatly increase evaporation and transpiration from the soil, resulting in rapid drying of the soil. Check the soil every few days to determine when your plant should be watered again.
Improper watering – Soak the soil thoroughly when watering your plants and let the excess drain. Water can run right through dry soil without being absorbed, so the top of the soil might feel wet, but are the roots sufficiently hydrated?
The state of aridity increases evaporation and water loss considerably.
The wrong choice of soil – A topsoil lacking organic matter can drain too quickly, drying out the plants quickly. Different types of plants require different types of soil.
We forget to water our houseplants from time to time. I believe we’ve all found a wilted plant that we’ve neglected to water. Try to develop a routine of checking your plants every few days and watering the ones that need it.
Use a self watering pot or watering globe – Several options are available regarding watering your plants if you are on vacation or away from home for a while. Utilize all of your options to keep your plants thriving.
Winter to summer water needs vary greatly from plant to plant. If a plant requires two weeks of watering in winter, then it may need two days in summer. This is usually the case as winter transitions to spring, when your plants grow strong.
Is Overwatering Worse Than Underwatering?
In contrast to underwatering, overwatering causes much more extensive root damage, which often results in the plant dying. Overwatering causes more extensive root damage, which is usually treated by cutting back the affected roots and repotting the plant.
Watering a plant too much often results in dead leaves, but the roots of a plant are usually the last part of the plant to undergo serious damage, so if you follow a regular watering schedule, you have a good chance of making it recover. There may not be any hope of saving a plant that has undergone complete drowning, since it may have died out completely.
Don’t forget that some plants won’t replace dead leaves by growing new foliage, but will only grow from the growth points at the extremities of the plant.