Fixing An Over-Watered Plant: A Step-By-Step Guide

Your plant needs water to thrive, but that doesn’t mean it needs to drown in a figurative ocean! Unfortunately, overwatering is a common problem when it comes to plant owners, especially if you are new to growing plants or you have a tendency to get a bit overeager with your watering can. What should you do if you overwater your plant? The following is a step-by-step tutorial to follow.



1. Know The Signs Of An Overwatered Plant

First, you need to know the signs of an overwatered plant so you can start working on fixing the problem.


One of the most obvious signs you'll see can be found right in the leaves.

If the leaves of the plant look yellow or light green when they shouldn't be, this can be a sign of overwatering. You might also see splotches of yellow color on the leaves. This type of discoloration can occur when a plant's normal photosynthesis process is blocked; if a plant has too much water, photosynthesis can't happen, which causes a plant to get malnourished.


Another sign is brown spots or a lack of new growth in the plant when the plant should be showing new growth. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell the difference between stunted growth and spots caused by underwatering and overwatering; in this case, you'll need to look at the context. If the spots and stunted growth go along with excessively wet soil and a lack of drainage, then this is likely due to overwatering rather than not getting too much water.



2. Switch To A Pot With Drainage Holes

If your plant is getting too much water, the extra moisture could lie at the bottom of the pot.

If a pot/planter doesn’t have drainage holes, this causes the soil to get excessively wet and it makes it harder for the soil to properly dry out.


In this case, the solution is simple: switch to a pot that has drainage holes so that the soil will drain. You’ll also need to change the soil so that the overly wet soil doesn’t contaminate the new pot or planter.



3. Prune The Roots If Necessary

In some cases, overwatering can cause the roots to start rotting! Since you don’t want rotted roots to stick around, you’ll need to prune them out.


Root rot can cause serious issues, so don’t skimp this step if your plant has rotted, dark brown or black roots. Remember, healthy roots are firm and white, so don’t trim healthy roots out of your plant.



4. Let The Plant Dry Out

It can seem counterintuitive to let a plant dry out, but if your plant has been overwatered then it will need some time to properly dry out before the other problems can be addressed.


This should only take a few days, and won’t harm your plant. Just wait until the soil is dry and slightly firm, then work in repotting your plant or addressing the other issues caused by overwatering.



5. Keep The Plant Out Of Direct Sunlight

You might think that sticking your plant in direct sunlight will help with the drying out process once it’s been overwatered – but don’t do it! Keep your plant out of all direct sunlight until you’ve resolved the issues caused by overwatering.


The reason for this is relatively simple: your plant leaves will be especially sensitive when your plant is overwatered since the nutrients won’t be able to reach the leaves due to the excess water in the plant. This makes leaves more vulnerable to burning, so keep them away from intense light.



6. Loosen The Soil To Help The Roots Dry Out Quicker

If the roots aren’t drying out fast enough, you can help the process along by loosening the soil in the pot or planter.


Simply tap or gently shake the planter from side to side. This will help loosen up the soil that may be compacted around the roots, which will help them dry out quicker than they were doing before. You may also need to tap the plant a bit to help the process to speed along.


It may help to lift the plant out of the planter so that the roots can be exposed to the air; this will also give you a chance to double check for root rot and mold on the underside of your plant.


7. Once Everything Has Dried Out, Repot With New Soil

Whether you are repotting your plant in a new planter with drainage holes or you plan on using the same pot, it’s essential to repot your plant with fresh soil once everything has been properly dried out.


It’s important to get as much remaining old, wet soil out of your plant and plant roots before you repot your plant. Old soil could potentially harbor mold, which can cause mold growth on your plant once it’s been repotted; so make sure as much of it is gone as possible before you start adding the fresh soil.



8. Reduce Your Watering Schedule Afterwards

Of course, the best way to handle plants that have been overwatered is to avoid overwatering them in the first place! If you have a tendency to get overeager when you water your plants, you need to consciously take the steps to reduce your watering schedule to a more sensible one.


While some plants may require to stay moist – make sure you read up on the specific plants you’re growing for more information – in general, a bit less water is better than overwatering. Many indoor plants require only moderate watering, which means you only need to water them if the top layer of soil is dry. Always keep an eye on your plant to make sure it's getting the right amount of water.



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