How to Rescue Overwatered Plants

Often the signs of overwatering look similar to the signs of underwatering, but the remedy is different

The first step in saving your overwatered plants is to determine how badly they have been affected. If your plants are showing some yellowing but have not yet started to wilt, you can save them by beginning to water them properly. If wilting has started to occur, you will need to work harder in order to save them.

Proper Watering Techniques for Yellowing Plants

  1. Check to see if your plants need water. If the soil is all dark and moist, your plant likely doesn't need water. Add water only when the soil is dry to the touch and light in color. Different plants require different amounts of water, so be sure to test each plant individually.

  2. When you have determined that the plant needs water, do so by moistening the entire root zone. Water should be exiting the drain zone when you have given enough. Water should not be applied from overhead, but rather by delivering water slowly to the base of the plant.

  3. Do not water at night. Plants that stay moist all night tend to breed disease. Only water at night if your plant has already started to wilt.

  4. Don't allow your pot to sit in standing water as it will keep the soil too wet.

Rescue Techniques for Wilting Plants

Rescue your overwatered plants
Wilted, overwatered plants are not always a lost cause.
  1. Move your plant to a shady area even if it is a full-sun plant. Remove any dead or dying leaves. These should be easily recognizable.

  2. Check your pot for proper drainage and, if possible, create additional air space around the roots. This will allow oxygen to reach the root zone. Remove any dead or dying roots and keep only the roots that are healthy.

  3. Water only when the soil is dry to the touch, but do not let it get too dry. You should also seize all fertilization at this point until the plant is healthy again.

  4. Treat with a fungicide.

There is never a guarantee that your plant can bounce back from overwatering. If your plant is going to survive, you will see results within a week or so. At this point, you can move your plant back to its original location and resume watering it as normal. 

It's important to water your plants properly from the start and to make sure they have plenty of drainage. If you tend to overwater plants despite your best efforts, it might be best to avoid any plants that are more prone to problems from too much water.

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