Plant Food for Houseplants and Overwatering


Houseplants are often tropical to subtropical in origin and need fairly consistent conditions. Proper fertilization is required to keep plants green and flowering properly. Watering consistently and in the right amount prevents problems with plant growth and disease.


Evaluate the soil moisture regularly to prevent over- or underwatering the plant. Lift the pot after watering to check whether there is a noticeable change in weight. Moist soil will feel heavier. Tap the side of the pot and listen for a hollow sound, which means the soil is dry. Dip a finger to check whether the soil is wet below the surface. It may be necessary to water daily, especially when using clay pots.

Signs of Overwatering

Plants with thin and delicate leaves will not survive overwatering for long, the Colorado State University Extension says. Check whether old and new leaves are falling at the same time. Look into the hole at the bottom of your pot to see if any of the roots are brown and mushy. Standing water in the container underliner also indicates overwatering. Always drain the liner. Check for moldy flowers.

How to Water

Moisten the soil lightly and allow water to soak in, especially if it's dry. This will prevent water from flooding the container. Then water thoroughly it comes out of the bottom of the pot. Drain any excess water from the underliner to prevent mold and root rot. If the soil is dry and pulling away from the sides of the pot, it may be necessary to soak the entire pot.


Houseplants need a regular application of fertilizer to provide necessary nutrients. Houseplant fertilizers come in powder or liquid form, each soluble in water. Time-release fertilizers are also available in pellet or spike form that is stuck into the soil. Most houseplant fertilizers are general purpose.


Apply houseplant fertilizers according to the packaging instructions. Most water-soluble liquid or powder fertilizers are used every other week or every three weeks. Slow-release pellets or spikelets are often required only once or twice a season. When using water-soluble fertilizers, do not apply extra water on top of already moist soil. This can cause overwatering symptoms or drain the fertilizer too quickly.

Keywords: houseplants, watering houseplants, houseplant fertilization

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.