I remember my very first plant. It was a tiny little succulent I bought at the local farmer’s market. At that point in my life, I did not have a green thumb at all. But there I was, staring at this cute little plant, and I thought, “how hard can it be”? So, I spend my $3, took it home and placed it on my window. I watered it and talked to it sweetly. I continued to water it every day for the next week. Two weeks later, my poor little succulent had literally disintegrated in its little pot. I couldn’t understand what I did wrong!
“I don’t understand what I did wrong, I watered my plant every day!”
“Jillian, it’s a succulent, you’re not supposed to water it every day, no wonder it died!”
Its true, you are not supposed to water succulents every day. I did absolutely zero research in how to care of my plant. I was so young, gung-hoe, and very ignorant to the world of plants. Each kind of plant has its preferred location, soil, and watering schedule. It was a cheap lesson for me to learn, and to this day, I still feel bad about being a plant murderer.
If you are new to plant care, I have a generalized list for you to look out for when you water your plants. Please note, each plant has its own needs, and while overwatering is a factor to plant health, make sure you do a well rounded analysis of your plants before deciding on a diagnosis and treatment to your plant ailments.
- Wilting and Yellowing Leaves
Contrary to popular belief, wilting and yellowing leaves can actually be signs of overwatering, not underwatering. When plants receive excessive moisture, their roots become waterlogged, leading to poor oxygen circulation. This lack of oxygen causes leaves to wilt and turn yellow, even if the soil is moist. If you notice these symptoms, it's a clear indication that your plants are not getting the right amount of oxygen due to excessive watering.
- Moldy or Foul Odor
Overwatering creates an environment ideal for the growth of fungi and molds. If you detect a musty, moldy odor emanating from your potted plants or garden beds, it may be a sign that you're overwatering. The presence of mold or fungus not only affects the plant's health but can also harm your respiratory system. To prevent this, ensure proper drainage and allow the soil to dry out between watering sessions.
- Root Rot
One of the most severe consequences of overwatering is root rot. When plants are consistently exposed to excess moisture, the roots become waterlogged, creating an environment where harmful bacteria and fungi flourish. Over time, these pathogens attack the roots, causing them to turn brown, mushy, and emit a foul odor. To avoid root rot, ensure that the soil is well-drained and that you water your plants sparingly, giving them a chance to dry out between watering intervals.
- Stunted Growth
Overwatering restricts the access of oxygen to plant roots, hindering their ability to absorb essential nutrients. This nutrient deficiency can lead to stunted growth, as plants struggle to develop properly. If you notice that your plants are not growing as they should, despite receiving adequate sunlight and nutrients, overwatering may be the culprit. Adjusting your watering schedule and allowing the soil to dry out slightly between watering can help promote healthier growth.
- Pest Infestation
Overwatered plants are more prone to pest infestations. Excessive moisture weakens the plant's natural defense mechanisms, making them attractive targets for insects and pests. Fungus gnats, aphids, and root-feeding nematodes are common pests that thrive in damp conditions. By avoiding overwatering and ensuring proper drainage, you can reduce the risk of pest infestations and keep your plants healthier.
Knowing when and how much to water your plants is important for their overall well-being. By keeping a close eye on the signs of overwatering discussed in this article, you can make adjustments to your watering routine and ensure healthier, thriving plants. Remember, moderation is key when it comes to watering, and allowing the soil to dry out between waterings is often as important as providing enough moisture. By finding the right balance, you can help your plants flourish and enjoy a vibrant and beautiful garden. Good luck!