Whether you’re new to houseplants or you’re the proud owner of an indoor jungle, overwatering can happen to the best of us. Here’s how you can avoid it.
I’m kind of addicted to houseplants. My fiddle leaf fig is my pride and joy, I’ve propogated more aloe veras than I know what to do with (seriously, if you want one, hit me up) and I love my snake plants like they’re my actual children. And that’s the problem. You see, sometimes, just like any amateur horticulturist, I love my plants too much. As in, I literally water them to death.
So, if you’re anything like me, have taken serious advantage of all those online plant delivery services, started mindful gardening or spent all of iso crafting the perfect garden room or giving your balcony a greenover, you’re probably wondering how you can stop overwatering your plants.
But don’t feel bad – you’re in good company. According to the 2020 Plant Life Balance Trend Report, more than 40 per cent of people struggle to know when to water their plants, and 27 per cent can’t tell why their plants have died.
Since there’s nothing more disappointing than waking up to a limp, yellow monstera, we asked Tammy Huynh, Plant Life Balance ambassador and horticuluralist at Leaf an Impression, for her expert advice.
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How to tell if you’ve overwatered your plant
According to Huynh, if the leaves of your plant are soft, limp or wilted and accompanied by brown, yellow lesions, you’ve given them too much to drink.
“The leaves may also completely yellow and fall off,” explains Huynh. “Perhaps you didn’t give it time to sufficiently dry out between waterings, or there’s also a good chance your partner or housemate has been ‘helping’ you by emptying their cups of tea or water into your pot plant(s).”
What to do if your plant has too much water
If you suspect you’ve overwatered your plant, move it to a warm spot, out of direct sunlight. “And just in case it wasn’t obvious, stop watering it,” notes Huynh.
“Aerate your potting mix by loosening it gently with a bamboo stake or stick. This will help with drying the soil as well as introduce some oxygen to the roots. If the soil is completely saturated and your plant is small, consider repotting into fresh soil.”
The easiest way to not overwater your plants
“If you’ve developed a watering routine for your indoor plants – stop,” says Huynh. “It’s cooler now, which means the potting mix doesn’t dry out as fast as it normally would, so just because you like to water every Sunday doesn’t mean your plants necessarily need a drink.”
Instead of trying to guess how thirsty your plants are, Huynh says to invest in a moisture metre (they’re cheap as chips) or stick your finger into the soil until it reaches your second knuckle.
“Feeling the mix is the best way to understand if your plants are thirsty. If it’s dry, water well, but if it’s moist, leave watering for a few days,” tips Huynh. “Plants are more prone to drying out if you have them near an open window or if the heater is constantly on.”
How to tell if your plant needs a drink
Note: Your plants are way more likely to be dying in a pool of excess water than dying of thirst, but if you notice the leaves becoming extra dry and crispy, feel free to give them a spray.
“For underwatered plants, give them a good drink, ensuring water runs out of the drainage holes. It should bounce back to life in a day or two,” notes Huynh.