Plants add a dash of beauty and life to our spaces. The better you take care of your plants, the healthier they will be. While water is one of the most important requirements for plants, overwatering can cause more harm than good.
Most often, people think they are helping the plants grow faster when they overwater them. They realise their mistake only when they see the plants start to die off rather than grow and flourish.
Well, what is overwatering? The term says it all: supplying a plant with more water than needed. One of the foremost things you need to understand when growing plants is that you need to avoid overwatering them. Let’s explore this in more detail:
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How long for plants to recover from overwatering?
In a majority of cases, an overwatered plant recovers in 7–14 days if appropriate measures are taken at the right time. However, depending on the plant variety, the environment, and the intensity of damage caused, the recovery time may vary. As a general rule, it takes two weeks to see some visible signs of improvement provided there are sufficient healthy roots. Here are some things you can do to speed up the process:
- Repot your plant if the plant is obviously wilting due to excess water
- Cut away any roots/fungi-infected roots using scissors
- Use a proper disinfectant to reduce the chances of the fungal disease spreading
- Use a pot with adequate amounts of drainage holes
What are the signs of an overwatered plant?
Here is a list of signs to watch out for, to identify a plant that’s dying from overwatering:
- Leaf discolouration is the first sign of overwatering you can probably spot. The leaves of the plants turn yellow or brown and drop off.
- The plant’s soil is soggy, wet, and muddy. You may see standing water.
- The plant turns droopy and wilted. It is a sign of the root rotting due to excess water.
- You notice moisture-loving pests in the plant’s soil.
- The plant has limp and wilted leaves in place of fresh, crisp leaves.
- The roots turn brown and soft instead of being firm and white. Root discolouration is a sure sign of root rot.
If you notice a few or all of the above-mentioned signs, you are likely to have an overwatered plant.
Do you want to find out how often you should water your plants? Have a read of this article!
What are the factors that can influence the recovery time of overwatered plants?
The extent of the damage
Obviously, the more severe the damage, the greater the recovery time will be. If you have been unknowingly over watering your plant for a really long time, the extent of the damage will be higher. In such cases, the recovery is usually slow.
Based on the type of plant, its recovery time varies considerably. Your plant will recover quickly if it is a fast-growing one. It’s because plants that grow fast seem to utilise more water than slow-growing plants.
If the plant’s soil is merely compost or a potting mix, its drainage is poor. If the drainage is poor, recovery time increases dramatically. You can add some perlite or coarse sand to the soil to improve the drainage so that water passes more freely and the recovery rate increases. You can lower your soil pH here if you have a read of this article I wrote.
The “light” factor
While plants need light to grow, if the roots are rotten or weak, placing the plant in direct sunlight to promote growth isn’t a good idea. However, don’t remove the plant completely from the light or place it in the dark. Keeping your plant in the shade – in a place where there’s indirect light is perfect to increase the recovery rate.
Time of the year
A lot of plants grow faster in summer compared to winter. Eventually, your plant will recover faster in the summer. However, this may not be valid for all types of plants.
Overwatering your plants is a common mistake that can be easily rectified. However, it’s essential to understand the signs of overwatering and take appropriate measures at the right time. Depending on the type of plant, its location, and the intensity of damage caused by overwatering, the recovery time may vary. Let’s look at the key points:
- It can take 7-14 days for your plant to start recovering from overwatering
- If your plant is wilting from too much water, replant it.
- Discard any roots/fungi-infected roots using scissors.
- Use a quality disinfectant to lower the odds of fungal infection propagation.
- Make sure your pot has enough drainage holes to help your plant stay healthy
People also ask
Why do plants die from overwatering?
Limited oxygen supply – The main reason why overwatering kills plants is that when you overwater your plant, it severely restricts the oxygen supply to the roots. Roots need oxygen to function properly. In other words, due to overwatering, plants don’t get enough oxygen to survive.
Root rot – Overwatering can lead to root rotting and irreversible root decay. Water logging is the key cause of root rot. In addition, there are fungi such as Pythium, Rhizoctonia, and Phytophthora that cause root rot.
Water logging affects the supply of water and nutrients – Overwatering leads to insufficient water for plant use. Of course, it sounds counterintuitive. Well, what’s the science behind it? Roots have root hairs that are responsible for the absorption of water and nutrients from the soil. These are transported to other parts of the plant to carry out various functions. When the root is continuously exposed to waterlogged conditions, the root hairs die out. Ultimately, absorption of water and nutrients is hindered, and gradually, the plant dies.
Excess water washing out fertilisers – You know that we add fertilisers to the soil to increase its nutritional profile and boost the plant’s growth. However, overwatering the plants can potentially wash out the fertilisers, eventually depriving them of several essential nutrients.
What are the steps to recover an overwatered plant?
Once you have identified that your plant is dying due to overwatering, you need to act immediately. Follow the steps given below to recover your overwatered plant.
- First, remove the discoloured or dead leaves of the plant. You can also remove the branches that have turned brown. Remember that it’s not possible to revive these parts.
- As the next step, move your plant to a shady place. While this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s actually helpful in recovering the plant. If you place the plant under direct sunlight, the transpiration rate of the leaves will be higher, causing more stress to the plant. Hence, it is a good idea to place the plant in the shade.
- Next, you have to check for root rot. Take the plant from the soil gently and inspect the roots. If you see mushy, black, or brown roots, root rot has started. Cut off the rotten roots carefully.
- It’s time to repot the plant. Make sure there are drain holes in the new pot. You can use fresh soil so that the plant gets all the essential nutrients it needs to heal and revive.
How can you avoid overwatering plants?
Here are a few tips to help you avoid overwatering in the future.
- When you buy a new plant, remember that watering too little is much better than watering too much. It’s easier to revive an under-watered plant than an over-watered plant.
- During the autumn, your plants need less water. So, be careful about overwatering in autumn.
- During winter, the indoor humidity levels decrease. You may increase watering in winter. However, make sure you don’t give as much water as you would in summer.
- You can water the plants only when the plant’s soil feels dry to the touch. You can use a trowel to estimate the amount of moisture in the soil.
- Needless to mention, optimal watering is a significant aspect of gardening. You should understand the processes carefully so that you can use your common sense to decide when and how much you have to water the plant.
How often should you water your plants?
Each plant has different watering demands. As a general rule, most of the plants can be watered once or twice a week.
House plants like snake plants and succulents are resilient and require less water compared to most other plants.
Depending on the climatic conditions and your geographical area, the amount of water your plants need will vary.
If you are unsure of whether or not you have to water the plant, always check the soil. If the top layer of the soil is dry, you can go ahead and water it a little. Over time, you will learn when your plants need water.
Is overwatering worse than underwatering?
Of course, yes. Overwatering is worse for your plants when compared to underwatering and has a greater chance of leading to plant death. It’s over watering that causes extensive root damage, which is sometimes irreversible.