What is overwatering, how it hurts plants, and how to avoid it

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Watering plants often leaves gardeners confused and concerned, particularly how often and how much water they should give. One of the most common reasons why plants wilt is due to overwatering. 

Overwatering means keeping the soil too wet for an extended period. It is not determined by the amount of water applied but rather how often it is being done and how well the soil or container can drain excess water, which can leach out nutrients that plants need in order to grow. 

Usually, overwatering causes unhealthy roots and even root rot in plants. Soil that stays too wet for a long time also deprives roots of oxygen. 

When watering plants, remember to find out their preferred water levels to prevent overwatering. For instance, plants that prefer to stay evenly moist such as the peace lily should be watered only when the surface of the soil is dry. 

To find out when to water plants like these, wait until the soil looks and feels dry before sticking a finger down into the soil to see if it’s dry an inch below the top. If it is, it’s time to water. If uncertain when to water, wait a day or two because plants can recover from slight wilting from dryness as opposed to a fatal root infection from overwatering. 

As for plants like cacti who prefer to be dry between waterings, leave the soil until it feels dry almost to the bottom of the pot before watering. 

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