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Home Plant guides Bottom Watering vs Top Watering: Which one is best for your plant?

Bottom watering a succulent

Bottom Watering vs Top Watering: Which one is best for your plant?

Watering a plant is an essential part of taking care of your plant. If you water your plant perfectly, not too much or too little, you'll have a happy and healthy plant.

If you've read plant care guides before, you might have heard about top watering versus bottom watering. What do these terms mean? Why should you do one of them over the other? Which one is best for your plants? I'll answer all of these great questions in this plant care guide, so you can decide for yourself what's best for you and your plant.

These are the topics we're going to look at in this plant care guide:

  1. What is the difference between top and bottom watering
  2. The advantages of bottom watering
    1. The soil does all the work
    2. Fight pests
  3. The disadvantages of bottom watering
    1. Salts stay behind
    2. Less control
  4. Conclusion

Let's get started and learn the difference between top watering and bottom watering!

What is the difference between top and bottom watering

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Pot with a drainage hole

The difference between top watering and bottom watering is this: top watering is when you water your plant from the top of the soil and bottom watering is when you water your plant from the bottom of the pot.

Top watering is the most common ways to water your plant, so it's very likely you've been watering your plants like this. You're top watering your plant when you use a watering can and sprinkle water on top of the soil and letting it sink down into the soil.

Bottom watering works a little differently. When you're bottom watering, you use a bucket or saucer, something to hold the water without making a mess. You fill the bottom of the bucket or saucer with water and put your plant with pot in the water.

You can only do bottom watering when your pot has a drainage hole, because that's the only way for the water to get into contact with the soil. The soil slowly soaks up the water in the saucer or bucket. The soil will soak up as much water as it can hold in about 5 minutes. After you've let the soil soak up the water, you can take it out of the water and let the plant drip out the excess water.

But what are the advantages of bottom watering over top watering?

The advantages of bottom watering

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If you're watering your plants from the bottom, you have a few advantages of watering your plants from the top.

The soil does all the work

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Bottom watering is a great way to water your plant without leaving any excess water sitting at the bottom of the pot. When you're watering your plant from the bottom and you're never letting it sit in the water for more than 5 minutes, you won't overwater your plant. As an added bonus, if you let the soil drip for another 5 minutes after you take it out of the water, you're know that the soil has the right amount of moisture.

Fight pests

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Another advantage of bottom-watering your plant is that the top of the soil never gets moist. This dry layer of soil on top helps you to keep insects, fungi, and other pests away from your plant. These pests are all attracted to moisture and thrive in an environment that's humid. When you water your plant from the bottom, you make the environment less inviting for those pests.

Are there any disadvantages when you're bottom watering your plant? Let's find out in the next section!

The disadvantages of bottom watering

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Top watering a Peace Lily

Like most things, bottom watering has advantages, but also disadvantages. Let's find out what the biggest downsides of bottom watering your plants are.

Salts stay behind

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First of all, one of the biggest downsides of bottom watering is that you can never drain any salts from your soil properly. When you're watering your plant from the top, you're not just watering your plant, but you're also draining leftover salts from fertilizer to the bottom of the pot. If you have a pot with a drainage hole, which I recommend, you're both watering and cleaning the growing environment of your plant by using water.

Unfortunately, when you're bottom watering your plant all the time, you'll never really get rid of these salts. That's why it's a great idea to combine top watering and bottom watering for your plants. By combining the two ways of watering, you make sure that your plant is watered properly, but you're also cleaning its growing environment.

Less control

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The second downside of bottom watering your plant is that the soil will absorb all the moisture it can hold. This is perfect if you're using the right soil for your plant, you can read more about the perfect soil. However, if you're growing a cactus in soil that's not designed for cacti, you will overwater your plant. You have a lot more control over the amount of moisture that you give your plant when you water your plant from the top of the soil.

Conclusion

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In this plant care guide we've learned what the difference between top-watering and bottom watering is. We've also learned the advantages and disadvantages of bottom watering your plants. Bottom watering is great if you're using the right soil for your plant and you want to help prevent pests on or around your plant.

However, you shouldn't only water your plants from the bottom, because you still need to drain away the salts left behind by your fertilizer. When you combine top watering and bottom watering to water your plant, you keep your plant's growing environment clean and well-hydrated. This helps you to give your plant the growing environment it needs to thrive and grow big and strong.

Thank you for reading this post! I hope it helps you to keep your plants healthy and beautiful! If you're looking for more guides on specific plants, you can always request a plant guide to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.

Tags: water, soil

Posted on: Nov 24, 2021 Last updated on: Jan 31, 2023

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Frequently asked questions

What is bottom watering for plants?
Bottom watering means that you're not watering your plants by letting water sink through the soil at the top of the pot, but by letting the soil soak up water through the bottom of the pot.
Is bottom watering better for your plants?
Bottom watering helps you to avoid drowning your plants in their pot. The soil will only absorb as much moisture as it can hold. It also prevents certain pests, because the top layer of soil will stay dry when watering your plant.
Is bottom watering bad for your plant?
It depends on your plant's needs! Some plants prefer to be watered from above, while others do better with bottom watering. When you bottom water your plant, the leftover salts from the fertilizer can't escape the pot and will stay behind. By combining this with top watering, you can drain the salts to help your plant thrive.
What is the difference between top and bottom watering?
Top watering is when you pour water onto the soil from above, while bottom watering is when you fill up the pot with water so that the plant can absorb it from below.
Can I use tap water for my plants?
Yes, but it depends on the quality of your tap water. If you're not sure, try testing it first or using filtered water instead.
When is the best time to water my plants?
The best time to water your plants is in the morning so they have all day to dry out before nightfall. This will help prevent diseases and fungus from forming on their leaves.
Is there any benefit to top or bottom watering?
Yes! Top watering helps flush excess salts and mineral deposits out of the pot and away from your plant's roots, while bottom watering keeps moisture off of the leaves and helps with root development so you're less likely to overwater your plant.

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