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How to avoid overwatering your plants

Overwatering plants is something that all plant owners have done at least once. It's often quite difficult to find the right balance between over watering, under watering, and perfectly watering your plants. I have killed a few plants by not watering them properly and not seeing the symptoms for what they were. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can follow to make sure your plants are perfectly watered every time!

I'm splitting these tricks into two categories, because these tricks won't apply for all plants in the same way. These two categories are:

  1. How to avoid over watering your soil plants
  2. How to avoid over watering your Leca plants

The first category is plants that are growing in soil and the second category are plants that are growing in Leca, baked clay balls. I've started moving my plants from soil to leca, because I find it much easier to properly water my plants in Leca. But I'm including plants in soil as well, because soil is still a really great way to grow your plants.

Let's get right into the topics, so you can get back to taking excellent care of your houseplants!

How to avoid over watering your soil plants

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A Dieffenbachina planted in soil

Soil can be a tricky thing to deal with, because there are so many different types of soil. When choosing a soil for your plant, you need to know what water requirements your plants have. Do they like to be in moist soil at all times of do they want to be in dry soil the majority of the time. If you don't give your plant the moisture levels they love, you could end up killing your plant, unfortunately.

Let's look at an example

Let's take an Alocasia Zebrina as an example. This plant loves humidity and thrives in humid environments. So it prefers moist soil at all times right? Incorrect, unfortunately! The plant has big, long, beautiful stems and those stems store a ton of moisture for when the plant needs it. The Alocasia Zebrina actually prefers dry soil, because it stores the water it needs itself and doesn't need to soil to provide it with the moisture. So why is this important? Well, it shows that you need to do some research when working with soil, because that's the most important start.

The right soil is half the work

When you've found the soil that retains or drains the right amount of water for your plant, it's time to water your plant. When it comes to over watering, a lot of the problems come from excess water that the soil can't absorb. Any excess water that stays behind in the pot and could cause root rot.

Drainage holes are key

A simple solution to avoid any excess water at the bottom of your pot is to get pots with draining holes. Now, when you water your plants the soil will absorb all the water it needs to keep the plant alive, and the excess water will drain out of the bottom. You won't have any excess water sitting at the bottom of your pot any more, so there is less chance for you to overwater your plants.

Sometimes your favorite pot doesn't have any drainage holes, but this doesn't mean you can't use these pots for your plants any more. You can plant your plants in the plastic pot with holes that it came in and pot the plant with the plastic pot inside of your favorite pot witout drainage holes. This way, any time you're watering your plants, you can put the plants in your sink and water them. After 5 minutes or so, all excess water will have drained and you can put your plant with the plastic pot back in the nice looking pot.

So the key here is to let your plants drain the excess water after you've watered them. The soil will retain all the water your plant needs, if you chose the right soil for your plant. If this sounds difficult, you can always contact me and I'll do my best to help you find the right soil for your plant.

How to avoid over watering your Leca plants

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Alocasias growing in Leca

If you chose to grow your plants in leca instead of soil, your job will be much easier when it comes to properly watering your plants. Before I get into how you can prevent over watering your plants in leca, I want to briefly explain what leca is, because it's not a term a lot of people will know. Leca are the brown clay balls that you can often find in public spaces and offices. Plants will grown in these rather than in soil. This has several reasons, including:

  • No soil, no mess
  • Easier to maintain
  • Watering is easier
  • Less chance of getting pests

If you'd like to find out more about Leca of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Leca, follow those links!

Growing your plants in Leca

Now that you know what Leca is, let's go over how to make your plants grow in these clay balls. When you get the balls and are ready to put a plant in them, make sure the roots of the plant are completely soil free. Soil will make a mess and could cause root rot, so you need to carefully clean the roots of your plant. If you're wondering how to clean you're plants' roots, here are a few guides that might be interesting for you:

These guides are all aimed at different plants, so perhaps the right guide is there for you. These guides will go into depth about cleaning the soil off the roots of your plant.

The leca balls need to be thoroughly washed with water until the clay dust is washed off. You can read more about that at "How to prepare Leca for first use". When the balls are clean, they will need to soak in the water for a little bit. Most guides say you should do this for at least 24 hours, but I've personally never done this and haven't noticed any issues.

Like soil, it's easiest if you put your plant with the Leca in the plastic pot with the draining holes that your plant likely came with. This means you'll have to clean the plastic pot as well, to get rid of the soil. If you're wondering how to do that, read more about it at "How to clean your pots for use with Leca". When you've planted your plant in the leca and are ready to water it, the easiest part of this whole process is starting.

Watering your plant in Leca

When you water the plant, the only thing you have to keep in mind is that the roots are never allowed to sit in the water. This means that you can add water in the pot until the water level is just under the roots. It's easiest if you use a glass jar, but pots will also work, just make sure you add enough Leca under the roots to lift it off the bottom of the pot. When the water never touches the roots, it's impossible to overwater your plants.

The clay balls retain a little bit of water, but not a lot, so they'll let the roots sip on the water. Leca absorbs the water that's at the bottom of the pot and the roots of your plant will sip on this. If your plant requires more water, it'll grow its roots towards the water and drink from that directly. Leca is great for plants that require very little or a lot of water. The clay balls regulate the water steadily and if the plant doesn't think this is good enough, it'll go and get the water itself.

Below is a picture of my spider plants that have been growing in leca for about a year or so and this is one of those plants that really want all the water it can get.

"Spider plant in leca"

As the spider plant loves to drink a lot of water, you don't really have to worry about adding too much water in the pot, the plant will drink it all very quickly. But as I mentioned, this also works for plants that require very little water. In the picture below you can see the Sanseviera is also enjoying the leca and it growing because the Leca regulates the water in the jar.

"Sanseviera in leca jar"

Because this Sansevieria only grows well in dry environments, it's important to make sure that the water stays below the roots at all times. The Leca will regulate the water, so keeping the water level below the roots is the only thing you have to think about when watering these types of plants in leca.

Conclusion

There are a lot of things you can do to avoid over watering your plants. When you have plants that are planted in soil, you have to make sure that you get the proper soil for your plant. Does the plant like to sit in moist soil all the time? Keep it in a soil that retains a lot of water. Does your plant like to be in dry soil? Get a soil that drains most of the water you give it very quickly. This will help to properly water your plants. When watering your plants in soil, it's best to let your plants drain for about 5 minutes after you've watered them to make sure no excess water stays behind in the pot.

When you're using leca, it all becomes much simpler. The only thing you have to keep in mind is that you keep the water level below the roots. Don't let the roots sit in water and the plant will grow and be healthy. If you do have plants that love a lot of water, like the spider plant, you don't have to be as careful with this. If you have a plant that prefers to be in dry soil, like the Sansevieria, make sure the roots don't sit in water and the Leca will take care of the rest for you.

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 or donate a plant in order to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.

Tags: leca, water, spider plant, snake plant, overwatering

Posted on: March 15th, 2020 Last updated on: December 17th, 2020

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