If you’re new to caring for plants around your home, it can be tricky to learn how to maintain them without over- or under-watering them. Too much or too little water can mean death for your little plant friend, and it’s important to pay attention to the soil in your plant’s pot to ensure that you don’t make any fatal mistakes.
So, what are some signs that your plant may be drowning (or dying of thirst)?
Wet soil. If the soil is still wet from the last time you watered your plant, you definitely don’t need to water it again. Some plants do like slightly moist soil, but as a rule of thumb the top layer of the soil (at least) should be dry to the touch.
Brown, wilting leaves. This is generally a sign that something is wrong, though it may or may not be overwatering. Check the soil to see if it’s dry or wet - if it’s wet and the leaves are still brown and wilty, you’re probably watering too much.
Yellow leaves, new growth falling off. This is usually a sign of too much water - back off for a bit and see if things improve.
Root rot. This isn’t necessarily easy to see without removing your plant from the pot, but if too much water is given over a period of time the roots can begin to drown and rot. Remove the plant from the container and feel the roots - if they’re mushy and turning black, you’ve got rot. Here's a great resource to help you out if you find yourself dealing with root rot in one of your plants.
Wilting leaves. If your plant is looking droopy and just a bit pathetic, you likely need to give it some water. Check the soil first (to be sure it’s not wet), and then give it a cup of water. You should see improvement quickly!
Dry soil. This depends on the specific plant (some like for the soil to dry out fully between waterings, and some don’t), but research the water needs for your specific plant. Most of the time, you’ll find info on how far down the soil should be dry - for many plants, if you can stick a finger about an inch or two in the soil and it’s dry, you need to add water.
Once you’ve determined if your problems is too much water or too little water, you’re ready to take some steps to fix it.
How to Save a Drowning Plant
Start by checking the dryness of the top inch of soil. If it’s dry, go ahead and add a bit of water. If not, let the plant rest for a few days.
Check the drainage holes to make sure they’re clear. When you add water, it should be able to flow all the way to the saucer underneath the pot. Plants don’t like soggy roots, so if your plant isn’t draining properly, you’ll need to unclog the holes until the water flows freely.
Check to see if your soil is too compacted. This will prevent drainage and prevent your plant from getting the nutrients it needs. If your soil is very compact, try inserting your fingers in several spaces around the root ball to allow for some aeration.
If none of the above works, you may be better off re-potting the plant with fresh potting mix. Plants love to be fed and a nutrient-rich soil is important. We recommend Harvest Organics Potting Mix!
Once you’ve tried everything, you can resume a normal watering schedule and you should begin to see improvement in your plant in about a week or so. Moving forward, most indoor plants do well on a once-a-week or once-every-other-week schedule. Just keep an eye on the soil and you should be good to go!