Between root-rot and mouldy soil, yellowing leaves and mushy stems, you could say I’ve encountered (ahem, created) all the telltale signs of overwatering in my houseplants. I just can't help myself from tending to my collection day in and day out. In fact, part of my strategy in acquiring dozens of plants includes keeping myself so busy that I am unable to give too much attention to any one single plant. But eventually, I had to admit that things had gone too far--my jade plant was dying, and I encountered my first pests. Trust me when I say that overwatering is by far the fastest route to the demise of your houseplant collection.
The final straw came when I noticed a handful of tiny, winged insects hopping around my spider plant. An internet search informed me that I had fungus gnats, and I realized that--yet again--my overwatering was causing way more harm than good. While fungus gnats aren’t necessarily harmful, nobody wants their precious houseplants crawling with bugs. Plant care products containing neem oil are a great remedy for these pests (more on that another day!), but in the long term, I really had to sort out my watering routine.
I seriously considered my options: I either had to a) water less, or b) water differently. The former clearly wasn’t going to happen (I know I have a problem...I just can’t stop hovering), so I thought I’d read up on the latter. This is when I learned about watering plants from the bottom, instead of the top. If the top of the soil isn’t constantly damp, the fungus gnats wouldn’t thrive. Using this method also lets the plants decide how much water to absorb. So, every few days I take the plants with the driest soil (I check the top inch or so with my finger), and water them the right way.
First, I take a large shallow dish (you can use anything from plastic food containers to lasagna pans--just make sure the base of your planter fits in the bottom of the dish). I add water and a couple droppers of Plant Vitamins directly to the dish, according to the ratios on the bottles. Then, I set my planters in the dish of water and leave it for about 30 minutes, or until the water levels stop decreasing. This is yet another reason why I swear by pots with drainage holes--they allow for this watering method.
Since I’ve made the switch to bottom watering with Plant Vitamins, I’ve noticed a lot of change. The roots of my plants are so much healthier. I haven’t had any mould issues, and I’ve been keeping the fungus gnats at bay. Lately I’ve busied myself with finding a multitude of other ways to pamper my plants, and I promise to share all of that with you in the near future. In the meantime, I’d love to know if this is how you water your plants. Or, if you’ve found another method that works for you, please teach me your ways! Share your thoughts in the comments below, or come say hi on Instagram!
Maggie Rodger on Aug 16, 2021
Thanks for sharing, Nancy! I’m so glad to know I’m not alone! It’s a game changer for sure.
Nancy Deni on Jul 28, 2021
Thank you for this! I have a gardenia that was thriving when I brought it home but my over watering has resulted in all those issues you described (root rot, mouldy soil plus bud drop). I quickly ordered Thrive and Boost, changed the soil and changed my watering habits. I think the Thrive has made a huge difference to all my plants. So happy to know I’m not alone in my watering failures!