Overwatering your plants is one of the biggest issues I see in landscapes today. When plants don’t look healthy it is tempting to give them more water and often this is a mistake, these are some of the few signs of overwatering plants. An overwatering mistake not easy to diagnose because in many instances overwatering mimics the signs of too little water.
Below are six signs you can easily recognize to determine if you are overwatering your plants or giving them too much water:
1) Your plant is wilting but it looks like it has plenty of water
The roots of plants take up water and also oxygen to survive and thrive. Overwatering your plants, in simple terms, drowns your plant. There is space between the particles of soil in your garden. Oxygen fills this space. Soil that is constantly wet won’t have enough air pockets and plants will not be able to breathe by taking up oxygen with their roots. When this occurs, your plants will wilt (giving the appearance of too little water) even though the soil is wet. Here is a great video from our friends at Denver Water about the negative side effects of too much water for your plants.
2) The tips of the leaves turn brown
One of the quickest, first signs of overwatering your plants is to observe occurs at the tip of the leaf. If the tip of the leaf is turning brown this is a sign of overwatering. Too little water will result in your plant’s leaves feeling dry and crispy to the touch while too much water results in soft and limp leaves.
3) Leaves turn brown and wilt
Leaves turn brown and wilt when plants have too little and too much water. The biggest difference is too little water will result in the leaves feeling crispy when you hold them in your hand. Too much water and the leaves will feel soft and limp in your hand.
When roots of plants absorb more water than they can use, water pressure begins to build in the cells of the leaves. The cells will eventually burst, killing them and forming blisters and these areas will look like lesions. Once the blisters erupt, tan, brown or white warty growths begin to form where the blisters originally were. Plus you will see indentations forming directly above the growths on the top sides of the leaves.
5) Yellow leaves
Stunted slow growth with yellowing leaves is a symptom of overwatering your plants. Prevent this by checking up on your plants every few weeks.
6) Leaf fall
Leaf fall occurs in both situations of too much water and too little water. When both young and old leaves are falling prematurely combined with buds not opening, this is a sure sign of too much water.
How do you fix overwatering?
Check your soil regularly. Don’t be afraid to push you finger into the soil and see how moist it is an inch or two down. If the soil is moist and you have some of the conditions above it’s a sign to reduce your water. Also, many stores sell inexpensive and accurate moisture meters.You simply insert them in the root ball and they will tell you how much water is in the soil. This is a simple and inexpensive tool that will take much of the guesswork out of watering your landscape.
I hope these tips are helpful and please share a few of your own to avoid overwatering your plants in the comments area below. If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing to the blog and follow me on twitter at H2OTrends.
Richard is a water management evangelist. He believes passionately in water efficiency and sees the financial and social benefits far too often to keep a secret. Richard is a spokesperson at industry events and on the Hill to provide direction and insight on landscape water management best practices. Richard puts his words into action through service on various boards and committees. He served on the Irrigation Association’s Board of Directors. Richard also writes for other publications and is an award winning contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine. In 2014 his efforts were recognized with a “Leadership in Landscape” award. He has a great interest in the supply of clean water for people in developing countries and as an outdoorsman, spends his free time running, swimming and surfing.