Lee Valley Tools Gardening Newsletter
Vol. 4, Issue 1
February 2009
Overwatered Houseplants: Fixing the Damage

It's curious that no matter how accomplished we are at growing plants, most of us have killed at least one by overwatering it. The best plant caregivers are not infallible; we all make mistakes. However, a plant that's been overwatered does not necessarily suffer a death sentence—there are simple ways to treat this unfortunate mishap.

The roots of a plant absorb air, water and nutrients to support the stems and leaves above. Excessive watering cuts off the air and the roots begin to suffocate, rot and eventually die. Fungus and mold in the soil increases, causing trouble for the remaining healthy roots. The most common signs of overwatering are wilting leaves and a pot that feels heavy due to soggy soil. Yellow leaves, mushy or loose bark on the plant stems and molds that appear on the top of the soil are also indicators of overwatering.

Removing the plant
Removing the plant
  Wrapping the roots
Wrapping the roots

There are ways to stop further damage. If you suspect your plant has been overwatered, the first thing to do is to remove it from its pot and wrap the root ball in a towel. When the towel is soaked, wring it out and place it around the root ball again. Keep doing this until the towel absorbs no further moisture.

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