The Q&A Archives: How Long Do You Allow An Overwatered Plant To Dry Out?

Question: I have made the mistake of overwatering a couple of scented geranium plants I recently bought. Everything that I have read suggests that I allow the plants time to dry out before rewatering. How will I know when they have dried out enough? Will new green leaves begin to appear again? The original soil and roots that came with the plant have not dried out even though the surrounding soil I transplanted them into has. I put a fairly good amount of perlite in with the potting soil I used to transplant to ensure there would be no standing water around the roots. The roots were coming out of the containers I received them in so I had to transplant them and I used 6" pots. Thanks in advance for your assistance.

Answer: Do you think the roots of your geraniums were damaged by the overwatering? As a sort of insurance policy, I suggest you take some cuttings from the plants (3-4" branch tips) and allow them to root in a glass of water. When roots have formed, you can transplant these into pots of new soil. In the meantime, don't let the new soil dry out too much, or roots won't grow into it. For potbound geraniums, it's useful to break the roots apart a bit before repotting to stimulate new root growth. You can do this by using a knife to make two cuts across the bottom in an X shape, and spreading the root ball slightly. So...water the outer soil enough that it retains a bit of moisture to tempt new roots to grow towards it, but allow the original soil to dry out so it is not longer damp to the touch, then wait a couple more days before watering the enire pot. I hope this helps!

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