People tend to consider watering their plants as the definitive act of showing love and care to them. No one wants to be the bad guy and kill their beloved plant by neglecting it. Out of the best intentions, however, sometimes the result is the exact opposite and the plant dies due to too much love.
Believe it or not, it’s a fact that a lot more plants die from overwatering than underwatering, and it’s one of the most common causes of death.
Plants usually need 7-15 days to recover from excessive watering. There are a number of factors that can influence how long it takes for a plant to recover from overwatering, such as temperature, humidity, drainage, and soil, as well as factors related to the specific species of plant you’re trying to save.
This means that there’s no easy answer to this question, but if you suspect you’ve overwatered your plant, there are some general guidelines you can follow in order to diagnose it and fix the damage as soon as possible.
What Influences an Overwatered Plant’s Recovery Time?
Recovery time varies based on a number of factors, most notably the current state of the root. If the plant has any healthy roots left, there is a good chance that you will be able to save it.
Other factors that affect the recovery time are temperature and season, light and humidity in the room, plant species, the type of soil in which the plant was planted, and drainage.
The most favorable time for recovery is spring and the beginning of the summer because, in addition to favorable temperatures, the plant also has more strength to help sustain it during recovery.
During the summer, evaporation from the soil is more abundant, so there is less chance that overwatering will happen at all.
The most critical time is late autumn and winter. Apart from the fact that cold air has a stressful effect on the plant, evapotranspiration slows down, and many people do not even notice they’ve overwatered their plant until it’s too late.
One of the most important factors in recovery is light exposure. The plant should be moved to a darker place so that its energy is not spent on new growth, but instead on the root recovery. Wasting energy on the growth of new leaves could be fatal in such circumstances.
After recovering, the plant can return to a more light-filled place.
Typically, high humidity has a great effect on healthy plants and promotes faster growth and a healthier appearance of the plant. In the case of overwatering, however, the opposite is true. Beginners often make the mistake of spraying leaves that have already dropped and lost their color.
A plant’s recovery is negatively affected by high humidity levels in the room. The plant does not need to be sprayed nor should the humidifier be placed nearby.
It is crucial to provide your plants with an adequate soil mix. Consider adding coconut peat and perlite to the mix for better aeration.
Generally, species that grow more intensively have a higher chance of recovering. Intense growth automatically means more water and nutrients will be used, and fewer issues will arise.
Improving the drainage is crucial, and you can achieve that by adding holes to the plant’s container, moving the plant to a different container, or adding pebbles or gravel to the bottom of the container.
What Does an Overwatered Plant Look Like?
Dropping leaves are a sign that the root system cannot adequately absorb water and nutrients. At first, leaves become light green and yellow, and at a later stage of deterioration they turn brown and fall off.
Plants that are overwatered and those that are underwatered visually look very similar, so it is best to examine the soil as well as the plant.
As a result of overwatering, the soil becomes dark, wet, and soggy, the plant withers, and some of its leaves turn yellow, brown, or light green.
Underwatering will cause wilting, dry leaves, leaf drop, and curling, but your plants will usually recover as soon as you water them.
After removing the plant from the ground or its pot, you should pay attention to its roots. It usually happens that the roots rot due to overwatering. The color of the rotten root is brown to black, and the texture is mushy and soft. An unpleasant odor can even be detected depending on the degree of rot.
Plants that are overwatered usually attract white lice and similar pests, so you should be on the lookout for these as well.
How to Water Your Plants Correctly
First of all, check if watering is necessary. Soil that is sufficiently watered is usually darker in color and lighter in weight. Pots saturated with water are heavier. If the first inch (2.5 cm) of the soil is dry, watering is usually necessary.
Do not water at night, unless the plant urgently needs water and it has started to wither.
Watering your plants at night can actually cause more harm than good, because leaves stay wet for a longer period of time than we expect them to, since there’s no sun to dry them off. This can cause the damp leaves to become more vulnerable to the development of fungi.
Winter and autumn are the best times to reduce watering. In the fall, gradually decrease the frequency of watering, and even more in the winter. Due to less light and lower temperatures, plants naturally absorb less water and perform less photosynthesis. They need a period of dormancy in order to yield a lush growth in the spring.
It is safest to pour water into the tray under the pot and let the plant absorb as much water as it needs. Usually, only a few minutes is enough. Do not leave it in water for more than half an hour, because that can have a negative impact on the plant. The amount of water should be evenly distributed, and not just in one part of the pot.
How to Fix Waterlogged Plants?
A plant that already shows bad symptoms such as falling or browning/yellowing leaves is a sign that you need to act urgently.
Overwatering usually results in the soil becoming too dense, or even the growth of white fungus on the surface.
Waterlogged plants benefit from a soil mix that is well aerated due to the help of additives such as coconut peat and perlite. The bottom of the pot can be covered with pebbles and gravel about 0.75-1 inch (2-3 cm) thick, which will greatly improve drainage.
Here are some suggestions to help your plant recover:
Prune the plant: remove dry and yellow leaves, and if there are fruits or flowers, be sure to prune them, because they consume the most energy. It is generally advised to prune up to one-third of the total amount of leaves and stems.
Improve drainage: if the pot does not have drainage holes, be sure to make them. The material of the pot itself is also important. It is best to use clay and ceramic pots. Plastic and glazed pots hold water longer.
Changing the location of the plant: moving it to a shaded position will save energy for root recovery.
Avoid supplements: don’t fertilize the plant until it shows signs of new growth.
Fixing A Plant With Root Rot
Can A Plant Recover From Root Rot?
It is possible to repair the damage caused by rooting roots, but the root system must still contain at least a portion of healthy tissue. Plants can’t do this themselves and will need your help to fully recover.
First of all, the root should be thoroughly inspected and all rotten parts removed with scissors. Rotten parts are recognizable by color – they are usually brownish and darker than healthy roots.They are also soft, perhaps even mushy, and exude a funky smell.
At least 10% of a plant’s roots must be healthy, otherwise it will be difficult, if not impossible, to recover from the damage.
Here are two different methods to aid in rescuing your plant from root rot:
Method 1 – Hydrogen Peroxide: after removing the rotten roots with scissors, soak the rest of the healthy root for a few minutes in a solution of one part 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed with two parts water.
Hydrogen peroxide contains extra oxygen molecules, and as a result promotes healthy roots, aids in nutrient absorption, and discourages unwanted fungi and bacteria from growing.
Afterwards, the plant is replanted in a new plant mix and in a new pot that must correspond to its size. Excessively large pots often lead to imbalance in the soil and root rot.
If you do decide to continue using the same pot, it should be thoroughly disinfected and washed to rid it of the microorganisms that remain on the walls of the pot. Don’t forget to remove dry and yellow leaves, fruits and flowers, avoid supplements, and improve drainage to give your plant the best chances to recover.
Method 2 – Fungicide Solution: all the steps from method 1 are repeated, the only difference being that instead of hydrogen peroxide, a fungicide solution is used that kills fungi and negative bacteria. Before applying the solution, the root should be carefully washed under a stream of lukewarm water.
Will Diluted Hydrogen Peroxide Hurt Plants?
No, if dissolved, it does not harm plants, but rather promotes healthy growth and increases plant immunity. However, it is harmful if used in high concentrations and too often.
Why Is My Soil Still Wet?
The most common reason that the soil still remains wet is a pot without drainage holes. However, if there are holes in the pots, the problem may be in the texture and structure of the soil in which the plant is planted. The third reason is if the root has become rotten and it does not function properly, i.e. it does not absorb water and nutrients.
A lot more plants die from overwatering than underwatering, making it one of the leading causes of death. Factors such as temperature, light exposure, species, and humidity, play a huge role in the plant’s recovery, and all of them should be taken into account when trying to fix the damage caused by overwatering.
If you notice that your plant’s leaves are falling, browning, or yellowing, it’s a sign that you must act immediately. If there is root rot, cut off the rotten roots and consider using hydrogen peroxide or fungicides to address the problem. Otherwise, taking steps such as pruning or improving drainage can go a long way in restoring your plant to its best plant-self.