Being a first time gardener can be a very exciting experience! It is quite beautiful to watch something start from a seed and grow into something so amazing. Or maybe you prefer to just buy plants that have already sprouted from stores like Walmart or Lowe’s. Still, it is very enjoyable as you watch those plants start to bear fruit one day!
What you might start experiencing in the early stages is being overly protective of your plants! You might start to purchase high quality soil, equipment to shield your plants from pests, and all that. This is great for your plants to flourish. However, there is something you might be doing thinking it is good for your plants but it could harmful. What could that be? Something as simple as even over watering your plants!
Although plants have very basic needs like water, too much of it (or too little) can be damaging for them. So then, how can one tell if they are over watering their plants? Here are some ways.
6 Signs of Overwatering Plants
Leaves Start Turning Yellow or Brown
When you look at the tips of the leaves, are they starting to turn yellow or brown? Every plant (like our body) is composed of many cells. Unlike human cells, plant cells are rigid and not flexible. Therefore, they will continue to absorb water depending on the available concentration of it. (Remember diffusion from chemistry courses?).
Basically, if there is more concentration of water outside of the plant (the soil), then more water will diffuse into the plant cells. The trouble comes when the amount of water entering exceeds the limitation of the plant cells. This will cause it to swell up and burst. As a result, the plant cells die off and will decay. This will also affect the surrounding plant cells which result in the symptom of yellowing/browning of leaves.
Soil Starts Growing Fungus
There are other organisms that live in the soil along with your plant. One of the most common kinds are different types of fungi. Fungi really thrive in moist environments. This is why you might see mushrooms form. You can help remove them so that they don’t take away nutrients that could potentially be fed to your plant instead.
Leaves Have Yellow Spotted Patterns
Although this can sound similar to the edges of the leaves turning yellow sign, it is not quite so. This sign typically means that your plant has been infected by some form of microbe! Like your plant, microbes need water and basic organic material to thrive. Be sure to treat your plants with something like a fungicide (i.e. baking soda, cinnamon, sprays, etc.).
Frequent Falling of Leaves
Similar to the first sign. As some of the plant cells burst, the structural integrity of the plant becomes compromised. Especially if this occurs where the leaves sprout from the branches, then the weight of the leaf cannot be held. The leaves will fall as a result regardless of whether it is yellow or green.
Soil is No Longer Firm or Solid
If you tilt the pot, does the soil look like mud that shifts around? Or perhaps the plant itself is no longer grounded? This is another sign that you have over watered your plant.
The root systems of plants need oxygen to function properly. When it is flooded, it won’t be able to obtain the oxygen form the air that it needs. In other words, the plant is essentially drowning.
Presence of Gnats
Like the fungus issue, another organism that likes to thrive in wet environments are gnats. Not because the gnats like the water themselves, but their larvae really love it. You might know their larvae best as root maggots. They are the little white worms that feed off the root system of your young plants. With damaged or no roots, the plant will not live very long because they will have nothing to absorb water.
If you plant is on the mature side, their root system is stronger and can tolerate the root maggots. Still, the root maggots do eventually transform into full adult gnats. It can be a nuisance when your room is filled with flying gnats.
Summary of 6 Signs of Overwatering Plants
- Leaves Start Turning Yellow or Brown
- Soil Starts Growing Fungus
- Leaves Have Yellow Spotted Patterns
- Frequent Dropping of Leaves
- Soil is No Longer Firm or Solid
- Presence of Gnats
How to Check If Soil Has Enough Moisture
First and foremost, every plant has different watering needs. It would be good to look up how often and how much to water your specific plant.
The simplest method to check would be to simply poke your finger into the soil and check if it is wet. Does it feel over saturated with water or dry like a sponge?
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Sometimes it can be hard to tell. For a more accurate detection of moisture, you can purchase a Moisture Meter. To use this, all you have to do is insert the tool into the soil and it will give you a moisture level reading. Simple as that!
Be sure to clean and wipe away the soil from the tool for future use!
As a first time gardener, it can be easy to be overly protective of your plants. You might also have the habit of wanting to provide everything they need. However, that can sometimes lead to over providing them with their needs like over watering. When not careful, this can end up damaging your precious plants.
Fortunately, you now have some signs to look out for and even tools like the Moisture Meter to help assist you. Happy gardening and hope your plants grow well!
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