The Q&A Archives: Overwatering Potted Plants

Question: How do know when you are overwatering potted plants?

Answer: Your answer partly depends on the specific plants you are growing because some actually prefer to be waterlogged, some prefer to be evenly moist, and some prefer to be allowed to dry out a bit between watering. However, in most cases the soil should be kept moist but not soggy. Overwatering can cause a variety of symptoms including yellowing from the bottom up, wilting, and root rot. Overwatering can also serve as an invitation to fungus gnats, little flying insects that look like fruit flies. To avoid overwatering, check the soil with your finger and see if it is still moist or not. Water so that the water soaks into the soil, wait a bit and allow it to drain out the holes in the bottom of the pot. Then empty the saucer so the plant is not sitting in water. Frequency of watering will depend on the soil used, the pot used (clay allows water to evaporate out the sides, plastic does not), the relative size of the plant to the pot (a plant in need of repotting will need more frequent watering) and the air flow and ambient temperature -- heat and a breeze dry the soil faster.

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