How to Tell if Your Plant is Under- or Over-Watered


Plants that receive the right amount of water will look healthy and continue to thrive. When you regularly under- or over-water your plants, though, they could become unhealthy to the point of being unfixable. Here’s how to avoid that.Signs Of Over and Underwatering

Image Credit: Good Ancestors Media

Signs of Improper Watering

Under-watered plants won’t look as lush as usual and they may lose some of their sheen. The next stage is wilting, although wilting can also be a sign of over-watering. If the plant is wilting, check the soil close to the base of the plant. If it’s dry, it needs more water; if it’s wet, it’s had too much.

Over-watered plants won’t grow. Eventually, the roots may rot if they’re drowning in water. It’s also possible that the foliage will become spotted or yellowed at the edges. Other signs of over-watering include:

  • The soil is wet, but the plant is wilting or struggling to grow.
  • Edema, which is when the plant absorbs too much water, results in blisters or lesions.
  • New growth is occurring, but it’s falling right off from the plant. Sometimes, new growth will occur at the same time the leaves are yellowing.

To prevent drowning the roots, the plant should be in a pot with a drainage hole and a saucer underneath for excess water.

Over and Underwatering

Watering Methods for Different Plants

Knowing how much water your plant needs is the best way to prevent giving it too much or too little. Here are suggestions for some common houseplants:

  • Anthurium: Soil should be noticeably dry. When the topsoil is dry to the touch, water it well and then leave it be until it’s dry again.
  • Bromeliads: Let them dry almost completely before watering.
  • Cacti and Succulents: If the container doesn’t drain, use very little water when watering so that it doesn’t sit in standing water. Let it dry out completely between waterings.
  • Pothos: Let the top layer dry, but water often enough to keep the rest of the soil moist.
  • Sansevieria: Let it dry out completely between waterings.

Observe your plant through the weeks and also take note of how it behaves as the seasons change. By knowing what your plant looks like when it’s at its healthiest, like when you first take it home from the nursery, you’ll be able to spot signs of under- or over-watering.


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