How to avoid overwatering your plants
Over watering 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. There are a few tricks you can follow to make sure your plants are perfectly watered and I'll go over these in this guide.
I'm splitting these tricks into two categories, because they can't really be used for all situations. 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.
How to avoid over watering your soil plants
Soil is always a tricky thing to deal with, simply 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 think about this, the likelyhood of accidently killing your plant increases.
Let's take an Alocasia Zebrina as an example. This plant loves humidity and thrives in humid environments. That means 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. This means that the Alocasia Zebrina actually prefers dry soil, because it stores the water it needs itself and doesn't need to soil for this. So why is this anecdote important? Well it shows that you need to do some research when working with soil, because that's the most important start.
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. This means that the extra water stays behind in the pot and could cause root rot. A simple solution to avoid this whole situation is to get pots with draining holes in the bottom. What happens is that the soil will absorb all the water it needs to keep the plant alive, and the extra water, will come out of the bottom of the pot. This way that water won't be able to cause any problems. A downside is that this could make a mess, so there is a second solution: Keep your plants in the plastic pot with holes that it came in and pot the plant with the plastic pot inside of a nice looking pot. This way, any time you're watering your plants, you can put the plants in your sink and water them. The water will drain out of the bottom. 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
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 so no mess, easier to maintain, watering is easier, and the likelyhood of getting pests is much lower.
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. There are plenty of great guides on the internet on how you can do this. The leca balls need to be thoroughly washed with water until the clay dust is washed off. 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 problems. So you can let it soak for about an hour and that should be plenty.
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. When you've planted your plant in the leca and are ready to water it, the easiest part of this whole process is starting.
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 line 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 over water 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. The water that's now at the bottom of the pot will now be absorbed by the leca 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. So leca is great for plants that require very little or a lot of water. The leca regulates 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.
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.
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.
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. If possible, 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.
If you have any questions about taking care of plants, you can always contact me and I'll do my best to help 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.Posted on: March 15th, 2020 Last updated on: March 15th, 2020