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Signs of Over & Under Watering Plants

Signs of Over & Under Watering Plants

Watering seems simple, but get it wrong a little too often and it's one of the easiest ways to accidentally kill your plant.

While you might think the solution is a perfectly performed watering schedule, the best strategy is to routinely check on your soil instead.

Using your finger or a tool like a chopstick, check the moisture of your soil at the level of dry out your plant requires (for example, check 2/3rd of the way down the pot if your plant requires 2/3rd dry out)  This helps you adjust naturally to variables that impact how quickly or slowly your soil is drying out.  

Now you know how to prevent watering accidents in the future, but how can you tell if your plants are suffering from over or under watering? 


You may have been over watering if...

-Your soil never dries out. Soil should take no longer than three weeks to dry out. If your soil never seems to dry out, it's likely been oversaturated and you may need to re-pot. 

-The appearance of soil of Fungus Gnats. These small flies or gnats love consistently moist soil. If you have a chronic issue with these little pests there's a good chance you are over loving your plant. 

-Soil that develops a yellow or brown discoloration starting from the bottom up.

If your soil is showing some of the signs of over watering, try holding off a little more than you usually do.  Check the soil regularly until it reaches it's desired dry out, and then water thoroughly letting the water run through the drainage hole. 

If you're noticing your plant has soggy spots or leaves that feel almost like they are disintegrating contact our clinic for help on how to preserve your plant if possible. 


You may have been under watering if...

-Water runs through your soil quickly.  This is an indication your soil has become hydrophobic and you either need to rehydrate it or repot. 

- Browning leaves, especially if they begin to take on a crispy or crepe papery texture and they are not in direct sun or near a heater. 

- Curling, Shriveling, or shedding of leaves are all indications that you may have skilled watering day a little too often. 

If your plant is showing the signs of chronic under watering (but your soil is still absorbing water alright) your first step is to check the soil a little more often and make sure you are evenly saturating top of the soil with your watering can, letting water run through the drainage hole. 

If your plant doesn't revive after a thorough watering, contact our clinic for more personalized help. 


Watering can take a little while to get right, so don't be too hard on yourself if you've made a few missteps along the way.

Every plant expert has killed more than a few plants while they were getting the hang of it.  Be patient with yourself and use your mistakes as learning opportunities, and before you know it you'll be successfully growing the indoor garden of your dreams. 


Did you know the signs of over or under watering your plants, or is all of this new to you? Let us know in the comments. 

Comment (1)

Beth Childresd

I have a 50+ year Devil’s backbone on Zigzag plant inherited from my mother. During a recent freeze in GA when I was out of town, this large plant was covered but not moved inside by my neighbor(( it very heavy to pick up). Now I’m left not knowing it will survive and come back in the spring. Stem are strong but leaves are dropping off. What should I do? Leave it or prune it?

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