What is the difference between overwatering and underwatering plants?

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Plants add character to your home and garden. Greenery is known to improve your mental health, wellbeing and more, but taking care of plants can be difficult. One of the most difficult parts of plant parenthood is to figure out exactly how much water your plant desires because overwatering and underwatering can be damaging.

Knowing if your plants are overwatered or underwatered is essential to enabling your houseplants to thrive.

Both can eventually kill your plants, but indoor plants tend to be more prone to overwatering damage.

Outdoor plants tend to be more prone to underwatering damage.

Whether a plant is over or under watered is important to recognise because unless urgent action is taken, your plant could die.

What is the difference between overwatering and underwatering plants?

Signs of overwatering include:

  • Yellowing of lower leaves
  • New leaves developing brown tips
  • The plant stops growing
  • Wilting which does not resolve after watering
  • An offensive smell from the soil
  • Mushy, brown/black roots
  • Leaf oedema in the early stages
  • Leaf curling can take place

Sign of underwatering include:

  • Fallen leaves
  • Brown tips affecting many leaves
  • Slow growth and smaller leaves
  • Wilting which improves after watering
  • Dry soil
  • Leaves which feel papery and thin
  • Some yellowing, followed by browning leaves
  • Leaf curling happens earlier

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You can save a plant which has been overwatered by moving the plant to a shady area even if the plant is a full-sun type.

You should try to remove any dead or dying leaves from the plant as well.

Checking your pot for proper drainage is also important and you should try to create additional airspace around the roots.

This technique will enable oxygen to reach the root zone and any dead or dying roots.

Only water your plant when it is dry to the touch, but make sure not to let it get too dry.

You can quickly hydrate an underwatered plant, but with a few careful steps, you can promptly save your plant.

Insert an index finger in by an inch or two into the plant’s soil.

If the soil feels dry, water the plant, but if the soil is moist, you may need to take the steps above to save it from being overwatered.

To quickly water your plant, set the plant pot into a tray filled with water and remove it when the soil expands and looks moist.

You can also poke several holes in the surface of the soil if the plant is in the ground and then water it.

The holes will enable water to penetrate the surface of the soil.

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