Recovering Over Watered Plants

 In Advice, Resources

As we’re warming up for Spring temperatures, we have to acknowledge it’s been a wet winter. Hopefully you have adjusted your irrigation water schedule to water less and let the soil dry out a bit between rain and watering. If the irrigation was set and forgot about, or possibly left on a Summer schedule, your plants might be suffering from overwatering symptoms. 

Assess the plants situation

 Yellowing leaves, mushy brown new growth, crispy edging on the foliage, or leaning could be a sign you need to back off the watering. Even plants that like moist soil, such as tropical shrubs, need some time to dry out. If you have clay heavy soil the ground will stay wet longer. Keep in mind if your soil was amended when planted to figure out how long it will take to dry out. A well draining soil is a mixture of clay, compost, and a draining medium. Good drainage mediums are sand, perlite, vermiculite, pumice, or volcanic rock. A medium draining soil will likely be  native soil or clay and compost. And moisture retaining soil is mostly clay or is topped with a layer of bark or gravel.  All of these mixtures are great to plant in. Some plants will do better in certain mixtures, and it might be opposite of your assumptions. For example cactus and desert plants like a clay heavy soil. They don’t need as many nutrients and prefer a long drink less frequently. And a tropical shrub might prefer a soil with compost for nutrients and volcanic rock for drainage, so that they can be watered more frequently without the roots getting bogged. Allowing time for the ground to dry between waterings will help prevent root rot and fungus, while also letting the roots grab into ground deeper. This makes the plant more stable against strong winds, which is important for top heavy trees. 

Recovering Over Watered Plants

If your plants have been suffering from over watering there are a few things you can attempt to save your plants. The first option for minor damage is to simply let the soil dry. Then cut back the dead and yellow foliage, allow it to recover from the stress as we warm up and then feed your usual fertilizer. Adding a liquid nitrogen fertilizer such as superthrive, boomerang, or cactus juice will help speed up the recovery.  For more severe damage where the new growth is coming in already yellow and it’s clear there is root rot, you can use a fungicide to help the plant fight off rot. If the plant is really suffering and is a small enough that you can dig it up, inspect the roots and cut back any mushy dark roots and replant in some fresh soil. You can sprinkle ground cinnamon on the root ball before planting again or use a rooting hormone to help the plant recover. In the most severe cases where the core of the plant is clearly rotting, we recommend removing the plant and roots so the rot doesn’t start to affect the plants around it. Either refresh the soil when replanting or allow the old soil to dry out and any fungus to die before replanting. When selecting a plant for an area be mindful about the plant’s soil needs and required sun exposure. Remember, the sun’s course will move with the seasons.  Be sure to take a look at your irrigation watering schedule and set it up to reflect the current weather and temperatures. We have been staying cool and cloudy longer than our usual spring, but warmer weather is on the way and can switch quickly. Be ready to accommodate those thirsty plants once we warm up. 


For more guidance on watering or any other plant care questions feel free to stop in to ask a team member.

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