How to Know if You're Over-Watering Your Plants
It's been raining a bit.
We all know the basics: Plants need to be fed. They require sun and water. Easy, right?
But what happens if they eat too much—do they bloat and decline in health like we humans do after too much overeating? Charlotte's been getting its fair share of rainy days lately, and those with a watchful eye on their precious patio plants might be getting a little worried about their hard work drowning.
Your pride-and-joy requires a specific amount of sun and water depending on its variety, so sometimes, it can be hard to know just how much of each it needs. Especially when it comes to watering, people have a tendency to care too much. You might think you're feeding your plant, but you're actually overstuffing it and killing it.
Sorry to be so harsh, but we had to tell you somehow.
So, how can you tell if your plant is getting too much water?
A surefire way to tell if your plant is being over-watered, wilted leaves are easy to spot. If your plant has wet soil, looks green, but is still wilting, hold back on the water until the soil is dry to the touch.
It has edema.
Edema is a sign of plant cell stress that can usually be detected by looking at the plant's leaves. Look for lesions on the plant leaves—when the cells absorb too much water, they burst. The lesions can also turn dark and then to white scar tissue. Leaf stress can also be dictated by indentations on the leaves, so make sure you give them a good look to diagnose an over-watering problem.
Its leaves are yellow or brown.
Dying leaves are a telltale sign of something gone wrong. If you see your leaves turning yellow or brown, try to think back to the last time it rained or the last time you watered your plant. Could it use a break? If the soil was still wet when it was watered, yes, it needs a break.
Its roots are rotting.
Aptly called root rot, when a plant's roots turn gray or brown and get slimy, the rest of the plant will continue to wilt and die. Root rot is caused by over-watering because the plant cannot properly absorb and drain all of the water it's received, thus allowing the sedentary liquid to rest at the bottom, stifling and rotting the roots. Because root rot is a fungal disease, you'll want to remove any affected plants if they share a bed—otherwise, the disease can spread to the plant's healthy neighbors.
If you do have an over-watering problem, remember to use the watering rule of thumb (literally). Stick your thumb or finger into the plant's soil about an inch deep to tell if the soil needs more water or not. If it's dry, water it. If it's still moist, wait a little longer. For outdoor plants, remember that rain counts as watering, so a rainy period means you should lay off the manual watering.