How to Avoid Overwatering House Plants

Overview

Overwatering your houseplant can lead to a number of problems. It compacts the soil which deprives the houseplant's roots of oxygen and stunts their growth. And, it can lead to the accumulation of dangerous levels of salt in the soil which can kill the plant. So how much do you water your houseplant? That largely depends on the species. The first step to avoiding overwatering your houseplant is to get to know the needs of the species of plant that you are growing.

Step 1

Get to know the needs of your plant. Some houseplants enjoy wet roots and consistently moist soil. Others need their soil to dry out between waterings or they may develop root rot. And certain other plants like succulents and cacti need extended dry periods. If you are unsure of your plant's species, take it over to the experts at your local gardening center for identification.

Step 2

Watch for signs that your houseplants are getting too much water. These signs include: defoliation, root rot, mold and stunted leaves with brown waterlogged patches.

Step 3

Abandon your watering schedule. Your houseplant's soil, not your calendar should tell you when to water. Most houseplant's roots reside in the bottom two-thirds of the pot. Plants with average watering needs do not need to be watered until the bottom two-thirds of the soil dries out. To check your soil's moisture level, stick your finger or a wooden toothpick down into the bottom two-thirds of the soil. If it is moist, hold off on water.

Step 4

Re-pot your houseplant. Houseplants grown in pots that are too small quickly exhaust their water supply. And the frequent watering that they require can lead to salt buildup in the soil. Re-pot plants that require water every three days or so, have stopped growing, produce leaves that are smaller than usual or have roots that push up the soil or poke out of the drainage holes in the bottom of their pot. These plants will be healthier and require less water.

Step 5

Pour the water out of the overflow saucer after each watering. Houseplants should be watered until water pours out of their drainage holes and into the overflow saucer. However, if this saucer is not emptied the water will be reabsorbed into the soil and overwater the plant.

Step 6

Switch to a clay pot. Since clay is porous, water can evaporate from its sides. It also allows air in which provides oxygen to your plant's roots.

Things You'll Need

  • Clay pot

References

  • Colorado State: Yes, Houseplants Experience Stress Too
  • North Carolina State University: Watering Houseplants
  • Texas A&M University: Houseplants
Keywords: overwater houseplant, water houseplant, avoid overwatering

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.