How to Prevent over Watering in House Plants

Опубликовал Admin
22-10-2020, 22:30
You love your plants, but maybe you don’t have a green thumb just yet. Properly watering house plants is challenging for a lot of people, so don't worry if you're having trouble keeping your plants healthy. If your plants are overwatered, you can change your heavy-handed watering habits with a few super easy changes. Soon, you’ll be caring for your plants with confidence!

Watering Your Plants Properly

  1. Push a finger 1 in (2.5 cm) into the soil to ensure it's dry before watering. You might be following a watering schedule so you don’t accidentally forget. However, this is a recipe for overwatering. Instead, wait until the soil feels dry before you add more water. The best way to check the soil is to stick your finger under the surface.
    • Don’t just go by the topsoil, as it’ll dry out first. Put your finger into the soil to see if it’s still moist underneath.
  2. Get a moisture meter for your plant if you don’t want to feel the soil. You might hate getting your hands dirty, and that’s okay. You can find moisture meters in most gardening stores or online. Simply push the moisture meter into the soil near the edge of your pot. Check the meter daily to see if it says “dry.”
    • Read the instructions that came with your moisture meter to make sure you’re using it correctly.
    • You can find moisture meters for less than $10.
  3. Water the plant until the excess drains out when the soil feels dry. Once you confirm that the soil is dry, it's time to add some water. Pour the water over the entire surface of the soil. Keep pouring until you see excess water draining out of the drainage holes on the bottom of the pot.
    • If your pot doesn’t have drainage holes, saturate the soil with water, then place the plant in a sink or tub and turn it on its side. Let it sit for about 30 minutes to an hour so the excess water can drain out.
  4. Check the soil again in a day or 2 if it feels moist to the touch. Don’t add more water to your plant if the soil feels wet. Instead, wait a day or 2, then push your finger into the soil again. Keep checking every day or so until the soil feels dry.
    • Don’t worry about how much time goes between waterings. It may take longer for the soil to dry under certain conditions. For instance, your plant may only need water every week or 2 during a cool month, while it might need water several times a week during the hot months.
  5. Try a self-watering stake if you struggle to get it right. A self-watering stake goes into your soil and waters your plant when the soil gets dry. All you need to do is keep the stake’s reservoir full. Follow the directions that come with your stake to insert it into your plant’s soil. Then, check the reservoir 2-3 times a week and add more as needed.
    • You can buy self-watering stakes at gardening stores or online. They start out at less than $10 and go up from there.
  6. Read about the best growing practices for your plant. Waiting until the soil is dry will keep most plants healthy. However, every plant has its own watering needs. It’s best to learn about your plants unique water preferences so you know how to best care for it. Use online resources to learn about your plant or ask a nursery employee for advice.
    • When you get a new plant, it might come with information about the plant. Check for a label or small plastic garden stake with this information listed on it.

Repotting Your Plant

  1. Repot your plant in a container with drainage holes if it doesn’t drain. A pot that doesn’t drain may drown your plant, even if you try super hard to water it correctly. Unfortunately, these pots trap the water around the roots of your plant, which can rot the roots. Check the bottom of your plant’s pot to see if it has drainage holes. If not, consider moving your plant to a new pot.
    • If you don’t want to change pots, try using a pot liner that has drainage holes. Many plants are sold in pot liners, which are basically thin plastic pots. Buy a pot liner that's the same size as your pot or slightly smaller. Then, repot your plant into the liner and place it into your pot. When you water your plant, lift the plant and liner out of the pot and place it in the sink. Water the plant, then return it to the pot once the excess water drains away.
  2. Try using a terracotta or unglazed pot because they release water. You may prefer to pick out a pot that fits your style, and any pot with drainage holes should work fine. If overwatering has been a problem for you in the past, however, it might help to change the type of pot you’re using. Terracotta and unglazed clay drain better than other types of pots. Consider switching to this type of pot to prevent your soil from getting too moist.
    • As an example, you might switch from a plastic pot that doesn’t breathe to a terracotta pot that’ll release more water.
  3. Pick a pot that's 2 to 3 in (5.1 to 7.6 cm) wider than your plant’s root ball. You might think you’re doing your plant a favor by putting it in a bigger pot so it has room to grow. However, you might accidentally be hurting the plant because the bigger pot will hold more water around its roots. Move your plant to a new pot if its current pot is the wrong size.
    • When your plant starts to look like it has outgrown its pot, transfer it to the next size pot. Expect to repot your plant every year or 2.
  4. Switch to a soil with better drainage if your plant still gets overwatered. If your current soil isn’t draining very well, water may pool around the plant’s roots, preventing air from circulating within the soil. Fortunately, you can easily fix this problem by replacing the soil. Pick a potting soil that says it’s well-draining. Then, remove your plant from the pot and shake away excess dirt. Re-pot the plant using your new soil.
    • Soils with gravel, peat, and compost mixed into them all drain better than a fine dirt soil.

Recognizing Overwatering

  1. Look for yellow or spongy leaves. Overwatering creates similar problems to underwatering, so you may be confused about what's going wrong. Examine your plant’s foliage carefully to look for yellowing. You might also notice brown splotches or spots on the leaves. This can be a sign of overwatering.
    • Don’t forget to check the soil to see if it’s dry or moist. If the soil feels super dry, yellow and brown leaves could be a sign of underwatering.
  2. Check the leaves to see if they're drooping or falling off. You might think your plant is wilting because it’s not getting enough water. However, it could be overwatered, which can cause the plant to drown. Look for dead leaves collecting at the base of the plant, as well as drooping leaves that have lost their shape. If you see this, it’s likely you have a watering problem.
    • Like with discolored foliage, check the soil to see if it’s dry or moist. This will help you figure out if the problem is overwatering or underwatering.
  3. Look for mold on the plant or soil. Look for white or black splotches on the surface of the soil, along the plant’s stem and on the leaves. If you see black or white patches that flake off, it’s likely your plant has mold. This is a sure sign that you’re watering your plant too much.
    • Try not to worry if you see mold because it’s not too late to save your plant.
    • If you find mold, you’ll need to get rid of it. Remove the plant from its pot and wipe off any mold you see. Cut off any leaves or roots that have mold you can’t remove. Wash the pot out in clean water, then repot the plant in fresh soil.
  4. Sniff the plant to see if it smells rotten. Your nose can help you figure out if your plant is so overwatered that it’s rotting. Notice if the plant smells like old garbage or spoiled eggs, which can be a sign of rot. If your plant is rotting, you’re probably watering it too often.
    • Cut away rotten foliage and roots to try to save your plant. If you act fast, it may be possible for your plant to make a recovery.
  5. Watch for fungus gnats that are attracted to decaying plants. Fungus gnats look like fruit flies, so they’re fairly easy to spot. Look for small black or grey flies that are about ⁄8 in (0.32 cm) long. While the flies won’t hurt your plant, their larvae can eat your roots. If you spot these gnats, change your watering practices so your plants aren’t overwatered.
    • Generally, the gnats will go away once you stop overwatering your plant.
  6. Examine the roots to see if they’re black and mushy. Healthy plant roots are usually white and stiff, though you may notice some mild discoloration from the soil. Unfortunately, too much water can rot the roots, which should be noticeable. Remove the plant from its pot and knock away some soil so you can check the roots. If you see rot, your plant is probably overwatered.
    • You may notice some healthy roots and some rotten roots. If so, you may be able to save the plant by removing the rotten roots and repotting the plant.


  • When you buy a new plant, ask a nursery employee for advice about how often to water it.
  • Expect to water your plants less often during winter than you will during the growing season.


  • Don’t follow a set schedule when watering your plant because this often leads to overwatering. Always go by the soil dryness.
  • It’s actually worse to overwater your plant than to let it get too dry, since the plant can rot if it’s too wet. Wait a little longer before adding water if you think you’re overwatering.
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