Are you over watering your plants?
Do you sometimes suffer with wilted plants, even though you just watered them? You have to then make another trip out to your garden center to replace them because they died. You did everything you could. You watered them everyday, like you have been taught. Well, guess what, you may be over watering!
Once we get everything planted and looking beautiful in the spring, we are adamant about keeping those plants looking that way all summer. The biggest mistake most of us make is over watering.
We are programmed to think that every day we need to be out there watering our plants. In most cases this is true, but doesn’t pertain to all plants. Especially when plants are newly planted.
When we plant plants in a planter or basket, there is twice the amount of dirt to plant roots. So when we water freshly planted planters or baskets, there are only so many roots absorbing that water. So in the beginning you may only need to water every other day or every two days, depending on how much sun it gets.
As the roots of the plants grow, they expand into that soil below. With more root growth, becomes more water absorption. With more water absorption, becomes more watering. By mid summer, you will notice that you will need to water once a day, like we are programmed.
In the beginning, is when most people lose their plants to over watering. One of the biggest signs of over watering is when a plant looks wilted. Now, this can be confusing. We are taught that when a plant wilts, it needs more water. The only way you can truly tell what a flower needs is by sticking your finger down in the dirt to feel the soil. If it feels really dry, then it is wilted because it needs water. If the soil is wet or damp, it means that your flower is becoming over watered.
If the soil is wet or damp, all you can do at this point is let it dry out a little bit, and hope it comes out of the wilted stage. Most of the time, if a flower is over watered, and has hit the wilted stage, it won’t come back.
When a flower is over watered and goes through the wilted stage, take it out of the planter or basket. Take a look at the roots. You may notice, what I call, root rot. The roots are no longer white. They are brown or yellow in color, and the roots don’t stay in tact. They just fall apart. This means the flower is done. There is no bringing it back. If the roots are still white in color and intact, replant it into the pot. It should pop back.
If you are very careful with how much you water, and still notice this over watering problem, then be sure to check that your planter or basket has drainage holes in the bottom. This is a requirement for excess water to drain out, otherwise it is just like setting your plants in a bucket of water. Of course, we know what that result would be.
Another way that plants get over watered, is when you try to over compensate on the watering after allowing your plant to get too dry. We have all done it once before. You leave for work early and come home to a dry wilted basket or planter, and our first instinct is to water it. We go as far as watering it so much, we are sure it won’t dry out for a week. Well, guess what, you can over water a dry plant.
When a plant is dry and wilted, give it the usual amount of water you normally would. Don’t over flood it in panic. When you give it just enough water, it should come back out of that wilt. It will result in a few brown leaves, but pick those off and carry on. If you notice 1-2 hours go by, and the wilt isn’t gone, don’t give it more water. Just leave it. It just may have been too far gone, but still give it more time. If you give it more water, this will result in over watering. There is no coming back from that.
As you can see, over watering is one of the biggest killing culprits amongst plant owners. I have shared this in hopes that I can save a few of your plants and a few bucks for you this spring and summer. Just remember, stick your finger down in that dirt and feel the soil. Not all planters or baskets are going to need daily watering when they still have a small root system. Also, be sure your planters and baskets have drainage holes. Lastly, enjoy your plants for much longer with your new knowledge on over watering. Happy Planting!