Signs of Overwatering & How to Save an Overwatered Plant

What are the Signs of Overwatering? And do you know how to save an overwatered plant? Understand everything in this informative article.

Overwatering is the biggest reason why most of the container plants die. Beginner plant growers often do this mistake, they keep watering their plants out of love until they summon the death for them. They don’t know that watering too much is more damaging than watering too little. Your plant can come back after suffering from a long dry spell, once you water it thoroughly again. However, that’s not the case with the plant suffering from root rot. You can still save it from dying but after some efforts. First, you’ll need to be aware of the signs that you have overwatered the plant.

Also Read: Best Way to Water Seedlings

Signs of Overwatering

What are the Signs of Overwatering? And do you know how to save an overwatered plant? Understand everything in this informative article.
If you see yellowing leaves and soft and limp plant, this could be one of the signs of overwatering.

To save the plant, you’ll need to learn about the signs of overwatering. Usually, the symptoms of excess watering are similar to underwatering, but you can easily observe that you were overwatering by checking out the soil and drainage. Also, the leaves of the affected plant are soft and stems are tender. Whereas, leaves of the underwatered plants are dry and crisp to touch.

  • Leaves turning to a lighter shade of green and yellow and wilting is what happens during the initial stage. Due to this most of us think that the plant is suffering from drought stress and make the situation even worse by watering even more.
  • New shoots becoming brown, leaf drop, slow or no growth and plant becoming floppier are some of the major other symptoms that come later.
  • In some cases, the formation of mold takes place around the base of the stem, leaves, and even on the surface of the soil.
  • Prolonged exposure to soggy soil causes root rot which you can see if you work through the soil, a bit exposing the roots. Roots giving off a foul and musty odor is also a sign of root rot.

Make sure to be on a lookout for these “Signs of Overwatering” so that you can save the plant before it’s too late!

How to Save an Overwatered Plant

Signs of Overwatering
Almost dead bonsai plant due to overwatering. Credit: The Guardian

If you find out at the beginning stage by understanding the initial symptoms, you’ll be able to save the plant just by cutting the water. Locate the plant to a dry spot and stop watering until you see the soil is dry to touch. Also, remove a bit of top growth, flowers, and fruits (if any), this will allow the plant to focus its energy on survival.

If your plant is affected seriously, apply these measures:

  • Move the plant to a spot that is partially or completely shaded. This is not to amuse you but as your plant is already hydrated to the extreme, sudden loss of water due to evaporation will make it even more stressed.
  • Remove all the flowers and fruits and some of the top growth so that plant can focus its energy on survival. As the root system of your plant is compromised due to rot, it’ll not be able to support the growth of its extra leaves, flowers, and fruits.
  • From all the sides pat the container repeatedly so that the roots loosen up. Lift your plant up gradually holding the base of the stem.
  • Let the plant stay out for around five-six hours so that the roots become aerated and dry. If you can put it on a cooling rack, it’d even better as the air will facilitate in the drying process.
  • Carefully get rid of the soil infested with mold that is still sticking to the roots. You can do this by putting the roots under running water. Clean gently but make sure not to damage the healthy roots during this process.
  • Cut the root parts that are rotten with a sharp and sterile pruning tool. The decayed parts will smell bad and turn mushy, slimy and dark. On the other hand, a healthy root will be firm and white.
  • Once the roots are pruned, sterilize your pruning tool again.
  • Now choose a new pot with proper drainage holes or sterilize the old one and fill it with new soil.
  • Now plant the affected plant in that pot as you usually do and water it normal water or with cold chamomile tea. Chamomile tea works as a mild fungicide and prevents damping off due to its antimicrobial properties.
  • Keep the pot in a spot that is bright and receives filtered sunlight or several hours of morning sunlight until the plant is recovering.
  • Afterward, water only and only when the soil becomes dry to the touch.

Also Read: 9 Important Questions for Container Gardeners

Post-Reestablishing Care

  • When your plant is recovering, water always when the topsoil is dry. However, that doesn’t mean to let the soil to become bone dry between watering spells.
  • Avoid fertilization at all cost until the plant shows new growth. Fertilizing can burn the roots, which you wouldn’t want at this initial recovering stage of the plant.
  • Once you see the new growth, you can fertilize it again.
  • After the plant becomes normal again, you can switch back to your regular caring routine depending on the plant. Just don’t overwater this time!

Tip: The best way to avoid overwatering is to water only when the topsoil is dry. You can poke your finger one or two inches deep to feel the moisture level.

Also ReadHow to Water Plants


  1. One of the top reasons houseplants die is due to overwatering. Plant roots need oxygen to function. When soil becomes waterlogged, plant roots can’t breathe — they literally drown. The good news is that it’s easy to adjust your watering technique to give your plants (and their roots!) a little breathing room. Here’s what you need to know about saving a drowning plant.


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