To fix an overwatered plant you must reduce the amount of moisture present in the pot. This can be done in several ways, such as:
– Moving the plant somewhere that is warmer or gets more sun
– Changing the pot size
– Changing the soil
– Increasing drainage
– Increasing air circulation
– Decreasing humidity
How to know if you’re overwatering your plants?
An overwatered plant and one that is underwatered can often give off the same physical cues. So while it is important to know what the signs are that you’re overwatering a plant, it is even more important to be across what your plant requires and to develop a watering schedule which will help your plants thrive.
Common signs of an overwatered plant include:
– Soggy soil that is wet to the touch
– Wilting (this is also a symptom of underwatering, too much fertilizer and also not enough fertilizer)
– Slow growth or growth stopping all together
– Old and new leaves dropping from the plant
– Yellowing leaves (this can also be a symptom of many other issues so check out this article we wrote about how to fix yellowing leaves for a more comprehensive guide on this issue)
– Brown spots on leaves or the tips turning brown
– Leaf edema (blistering of the leaves which is caused by an excess of moisture in the cells)
– Mould or fungus growing on the leaves, stems or soil (commonly powdery mildew)
– Stems turning black
– Soft leaves or stems
– Presence of pests such as fungal gnats
Why does overwatering hurt your plants?
You might be thinking, why does overwatering hurt my plants? They need it to live, so why does it matter if they get a little extra?
Well, a little more goes into it than that. Overwatering plants can drown them, make them susceptible to infections and fungus but it also weakens the plant overall.
If an overwatered plant stays overwatered it can be at risk of root rot, a deadly condition to plants and one which will destroy the whole plant.
How does overwatering drown plants?
Water is absorbed through the roots, however the roots also need some space to breathe and if they’re constantly covered in water, they wont be able to do this, effectively suffocating the plant by cutting off its oxygen. Plants are very good at dealing with dry conditions and can go into a form of hibernation, they don’t deal so well with too much water because of this suffocation effect.
How does overwatering make plants more susceptible to infections and fungus?
Overwatering can change the whole ecosystem within the pot your plant is in. By blocking oxygen from getting to the roots, it creates an anaerobic environment which pathogens and fungus thrive in. This can cause enormous damage to the roots which goes on to hurt the whole plant.
Too much water in a pot, especially if it is slow draining can begin to stagnate, this makes the perfect conditions for fungas gnats and mould to start to grow and damage your plant. Not only will this become a problem for your plant but it can also affect other plants in your home as well as your health and the health of those around you.
How does overwatering weaken plants?
When a plant has access to water far too easily, its root systems don’t have to work as hard to absorb it. Just like feeding wildlife if you make it too easy they lose the skills needed to find their own food.
This is just one of the ways that overwatering weakens plants. When the cells in the plant, especially the leaves, have too much water in them, they become swollen, and begin to become affected from changed in wind, temperature and light. If they continue to absorb too much water the cells can burst causing blistering.
Overwatering is one of the worst things you can do to your plant and it can directly affect your plant or create ongoing issues for them down the line.
How to fix an overwatered plant?
Thankfully, fixing an overwatered plant is simple and straight forward. Essentially what you need to do is dry out and aerate the soil. There are many things you can do to allow this to happen and by doing one or many of these things you will be able to save your plants from an unfortunate fate.
To try out the plant, the first thing you need to do is stop watering it. Your plant wont die because of this, it wont shrivel, they are much more resilient than you think. If you don’t stop watering your plant though, the problem will continue and it will die.
To speed up the drying process you can position it in a more optimal place, somewhere that gets more sun, more air flow and is less humid will speed this up and give your plant relief quicker.
The pot that your plant is in can also help to combat overwatering. First thing you need to have in a good pot is plenty of drainage. If there isn’t enough drainage holes, make some more. If you cant make any more holes, you need to get a new pot. It is that simple.
Other than drainage holes, the size of the pot makes a big difference too. The larger the pot, the more room there is for the water to spread out and the more room there is for the roots to breathe. If your plant is cramped into a small pot, there will be much less room for the roots to breathe without overwatering, add that in too and you’ve got a recipe for plant suffocation.
Aerating the soil will help roots to breathe, this is a very simple process and something anyone can do to help their overwatered plants. Poke holes in the soil with your finger or a pencil to allow more air space and let the roots breathe. Don’t go crazy with the poking though, you don’t want to damage the roots.
In cases of severe overwatering you may have to re-pot the plant into soil with a more appropriate moisture level. Severe overwatering can be identified by water constantly sitting on the top soil combined with multiple of the symptoms mentioned above. If this is the case for one of your plants the best thing you can do is to re-pot the plant in the least stressful way possible to give it some relief.
If your plant is showing signs of damage, particularly in the leaves, it might be best to cut off the damaged foliage. Sometimes the damage can be beyond repair, if you leave the damaged foliage on the plant you’re only increasing the amount of work the plant needs to do to heal itself. Make it easy for your plant and remove the dead and dying foliage so it can concentrate on fixing the more important things.
Stop fertilizing your plants when they’ve been overwatered. This will give the plant a rest and further help it concentrate on healing itself. You can start a fertilization schedule again once your plant is showing signs of new growth.
What factors go into the recovery of an overwatered plant?
Some plants will recover quicker than others from overwatering. This all depends on several circumstances. For instant, some plants are just hardier than others whether its because of the age of the plant or the species, every plant is different.
Other factors that go into the recovery are temperature and humidity. Areas with higher temperatures and lower humidity will lead to your overwatered plants recovering quicker.
Dormancy will also have an affect on the recovery time. Some plants go dormant in colder periods, this means that these plants may not have been affected as much by the overwatereing and as such they will recover quicker because they may not have taken on as much damage.
How do you prevent plants from becoming overwatered in the first place?
Well this seems easy, doesn’t it? Just don’t water your plant so much. This is correct but there is so much more that can be done to prevent overwatering, starting with how and when you water your plants.
Don’t keep your plants continuously soaking in water, you can do this for up to about 15 minutes or so but any longer than this can cause soil and roots to absorb too much water and hold it for an extended amount of time leading to suffocation of the plant.
You also shouldn’t water your plants when they don’t need to be watered in the first place, this seems like common sense but so many people do it. As a simple rule of thumb, if the top 2 inches of soil are dry, then you should be okay to water your plant, if they’re wet, then there is enough water.
If you are unsure, then leave it a day, it is better to have an underwatered plant and one which is overwatered.
All of the other factors which were mentioned before about fixing an overwatered plant can go into preventing overwatering in the first place, these include:
– Ensuring there is enough drainage in a pot
– Having the appropriate sized pot for the plant
– Making sure there is proper airflow and humidity for your plants
– Giving your plants well draining soil
If you give your plants the right conditions they will grow and thrive, even if you do overwater them, they will respond better if they have the right environment. This is really important within plant care and your plants will thank you for it.
So now you know everything about how to save an overwatered plant as well as how to prevent them from being overwatered in the first place. If you follow this easy guide you’ll be able to fix plants that have been overwatered and hopefully never have to worry about it ever again!