How to Identify Overwatered Plants
When it comes to caring for your landscape plants, water plays an essential part in your plants’ ability to grow and thrive. As professional landscapers installing plants and trees on a daily basis, we have found overwatering to be the most frequent cause of plant death. Each plant is unique and they will prefer varying amounts of water, so it’s important to know how to identify overwatered plants so you can spot it right away and take action.
It’s important that your plants dry out between each watering so oxygen can get to the plant. It the soil isn’t drying out between watering you can check by placing a finger 1-2 inches into the soil around the base of your plant. If it’s damp or wet, the plant is receiving too much water or the wet soil is not draining. Either way, the plant is holding too much water.
Yellow Wilted Foliage
Outdoor plants that are receiving too much water reflect that in their foliage. Initially, the leaves will take on a more yellowish shade and begin to wilt, sag or limp. If you touch the leaves of the plant, they can feel soft and supple as though they are filled with a bit of water. After seeing these signs in the foliage, check the soil for wetness to confirm.
Brown Leaves and Foliage Drop
Plants that have been receiving too much water over a long period of time can develop root rot. Roots are the life source of your plant, providing them with water, oxygen and nutrients from the soil. Once the roots have rotted, they are no longer passing any of these things up to the plant. You will notice that the foliage begins to brown and drop. At this stage, overwatering can often be mistaken for under watering because the branches and foliage seem brittle and deprived of water. Check your soil to confirm. If your plant has rotted roots, you will find the soil to have a musty or foul smelling odor as you dig down close to the roots.
Once you have confirmed that your plant has been receiving too much water, determine whether or not it can be saved. Most plants with root rot will show signs of death throughout the plant and will likely perish. If you have caught things in time, the first thing you need to do is obviously stop watering. Allow the soil around the plant to dry completely between watering cycles. Depending on the soil and terrain, this could be several days to several weeks. If you see the plant is improving with this adjustment, keep up the new watering practice. You can prune away damaged foliage and give the plant some vitamins to help give them a boost as they recover.
When growing plants, you are really growing roots. The stronger and deeper the roots grow, the healthier your plant will be. The very best way to develop a strong root system is through proper watering and knowing how to identify overwatered plants. One of the benefits of hiring a professional landscape designer is that they will choose plants that best thrive in your region of the country and have the ability to develop a preliminary watering schedule to help establish plants roots just after installation and modify for on-going care and maintenance. For example, new plants will need daily watering for an initial period of time while the roots settle. After that time, however, if you water every couple of days whether the plants need it or not, the roots will not be very thirsty and therefore unlikely to reach deep in search of water. In addition, if you are watering for short intervals of time, the water only has a chance to penetrate the top layers of soil. If that’s as far as the water reaches when the roots find it, the roots will stay there and remain shallow. If, however you wait until the soil is dry between watering, you ensure that your roots are thirsty and desperate for water. You should then water for a longer intervals of time, ensuring water reaches deeper into the soil. Since your roots are thirsty, they are motivated to reach for the water and grow deeper into the soil.
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