How To Tell If a Plant is Overwatered or Underwatered

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A very common problem with houseplants is watering. Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell if your plant looks unhealthy due to overwatering or underwatering because the signs for both situations are quite similar. 

In this article, we are going to be providing you with clear signs for both cases and also let you know how to tell if a plant is overwatered or underwatered, so stick with us. 

What Is Overwatering? 

Overwatering is the term used to describe a plant grown in poorly aerated soil, which is soggy and wet. Apart from the area your plant finds itself in, overwatering can also be a result of watering your plants too much, which results in the soil staying wet for a long time. 

If you start overwatering your plants, the roots will not be able to have excess oxygen provided due to the excessive water from the soil, and most plant roots require oxygen for them to survive. 

This oxygen is usually passed to the plant through the spaces in the soil, and if you overwater the soil, the oxygen wouldn’t be able to get to the plant.

So, if you starve your plant of enough oxygen, there is a very high chance that your plant will not function properly.

See Also: How Often to Water Yucca Plants?

What Is Underwatering? 

Underwatering is just the opposite of overwatering, and this occurs when you seldom water your plants, and you plant them in arid areas. Due to the growth condition, the plant might lose water, and the roots start to dry up. 

How To Tell If A Plant Is Overwatered Or Underwatered 

It is very easy to tell if you are overwatering your plants underwater. In the case of overwatering, you will be able to notice some of the signs below; 

  • The roots become unhealthy and cannot provide the leaves with nutrients leading to the yellowing of the leaves. 
  • The leaves would start developing blisters and edema
  • The tip of younger leaves would start to turn brown
  • Offensive smell for the soil around the plants
  • In some cases, the leaves start to curl
  • The roots of the leaves start to rot and turn mushy and brown

To tell if your plants are underwatered, you would see some of the signs listed below; 

  • The growth of the plant is slow compared to others
  • The soil around the plant is dry
  • The leaves become thinner and papery
  • The leaves can start to curl also alongside yellowing 
  • The leaves start to turn brown and drop

See Also: Best Soil for Yucca Plant Indoors

How Do I Fix Overwatering? 

If from the signs listed above, you suspect that your plant might be suffering from overwatering, then you should take the steps listed below to get your plant back healthy;

  1. Gently take away the overwatered plant from the pot. 
  2. Inspect your plants’ roots carefully to see if they are black/brown, rotten, mushy, and smell bad. If they are, then you overwatered your plants. 
  3. Carefully take your shears and prune off all the rotting roots. After that, sterilize your shears. 
  4. After getting rid of the damaged rots, gently rinse the soil from your plant with water and your hands. 
  5. After that, spray your plants’ roots gently with dilute hydrogen peroxide. This would not affect your plants but would kill the harmful pathogens. 
  6. Repot your plant with clean and well-draining soil and ensure you do not overwater them again. 

Some plants can be able to handle more water than most plants. So, if you reside in an area where the soils are mushy, then you can plant these plants instead; 

  • Lucky bamboo
  • Baby’s tears
  • Moss
  • Anthuriums
  • Areca palms
  • Umbrella plants
  • Boston’s ferns

How Do I Fix Underwatering? 

You can fix your underwatered plant by ensuring that you water the plants effectively in well-draining soil or use a plant pot with drain holes for air to get rid of excess water. 

If you need more time to always water your plants due to the nature of your job or for other reasons, you can employ someone to do it for you.

If you do not want that option, there are several other amazing plants you can plant around your homes that are susceptible to underwatering. Some of these plants include; 

  • Spider plant
  • Jade plant
  • Cacti
  • Aloe vera
  • ZZ plant
  • Snake plant
  • Ponytail palm
  • Cast iron plant

See Also: Top 7 Vegetables That Grow In Sandy Soil

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Prevent Underwatering My Plants? 

Ensure that your plant is not rootbound, which means ensure that the roots of your plants do not fill the entire pot making it difficult for water to go around, work on your wearing pattern. Do not forget to water your plants when they are due and also, take note of the seasonal changes and work based on it. 

How Can I Prevent Overwatering My Plants? 

Ensure that you plant your flowers or plants in moderate soil, and also, if you reside in waterlogged areas, then it would be best if you get flower pots and plant your plants there. Also, work on your watering habits, do not spray too much water on your plants so the roots are not deprived of oxygen. 

How Long Does It Take for A Plant to Recover from Overwatering? 

After fixing the problems with your overwatered plant, it would take your plants three months for them to recover and another three months for them to return to their original conditions. 

Which Is Worse: Overwatering or Underwatering?

Overwatering is a lot worse than underwatering because your plant is more likely to die. Since overwatering affects the root more, then it Is the worse party. 

Why Can Some Plants Grow in Water but Not on Wet Soil?

Some plants grow on water rather than wet soil because overwatering is usually based on root oxygenation rather than water availability.

Water bodies have a good amount of dissolved oxygen in them, and also, some plants are made with roots that can withstand the water’s pressure on their entire body. 

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