How To Water Your Plants So They Don’t Die: The Bottom Watering Method
Watering is one of the most important parts of taking care of your garden. Plants need water to survive, and the amount and frequency with which you water them can have a big impact on their overall health. Water helps plants grow by transporting nutrients and minerals from the soil up into their stems and leaves. It also helps them maintain good turgor pressure, which is important to keep the plant upright and strong. You may have seen what happens when a plant doesn’t get enough water: its leaves start to droop or even turn brown or yellow. Without proper watering, your plants will dry out and eventually die.
How to Tell If the Plants are Thirsty
If you’re like most people, you’ve made the mistake of trying to judge whether a plant is thirsty by sticking your finger into the soil. Unfortunately, this method can be misleading—even if it feels dry on the surface, the soil could still be wet below. Instead, lift the pot and gauge its weight to determine how much water is needed. A heavy pot means that it’s still wet on the inside, but a light one means that it’s probably time for a drink.
If you’re still not sure, try another method to get an accurate assessment. Take out your gardening tool and push it into the soil about an inch or so down. Pull it out and check for dirt on the metal surface—if there’s dirt there, then your plant doesn’t need any water yet; if there’s not, then it’s parched and ready for hydration.
You can also tell if a plant needs water by checking its leaves. If they’re wilting or falling off at a faster-than-normal rate, then your plant might be dehydrated. However, remember that some plants naturally shed their leaves throughout the year; in this case, don’t be alarmed unless more than half of its foliage has disappeared over a short period
Bottom Watering Plants Simplicity
It is a much easier process than watering from the top. When you water from the top, more water leaves the soil as runoff and it is wasted. A constant supply of moisture at the roots also means that plants are less likely to get dehydrated between waterings, making it easy to avoid overwatering them. You’ll also save time on watering your plants by cutting out the need for measuring cups or complicated irrigation systems.
As a bonus, bottom watering is space-efficient! Instead of having to lug a huge watering can around with you when tending to your garden, you can just keep one small container of water (or rainwater) under each plant and let gravity do its job. This makes bottom watering perfect for small gardens or indoor houseplants that don’t require large amounts of water—just set up containers in front of each plant and go about your business.
Bottom watering also has another crucial benefit: it prevents messy spills and drips from damaging floors or furnishings! If you have ever tried carrying a messy bucket full of water through your home before, then you know how difficult it can be not to spill some on yourself, on your furniture, or on the floor as you go along. By using bottom watering for houseplants instead of traditional “top-down” methods like pouring out pitchers over them, there’s no way that excess moisture will soak into your carpeting or delicate artwork—only into their roots where they need it most.
The Difference Between Top-Watering and Bottom-Watering
There are two main ways to water a plant: top-watering and bottom-watering. When you top-water, you pour water directly onto the soil. This is the most common method of watering houseplants, and it’s also generally easier. However, it can lead to issues such as soil compaction (which makes your plants harder to care for) and root rot (which can kill your plants). Bottom watering allows the roots to absorb water from the bottom of a container rather than from above, which helps prevent these problems.
The difference between top-watering and bottom-watering is pretty straightforward—but what does that look like in practice? Let’s take a closer look at both methods.
What Equipment Do You Need To Bottom Water Plants?
You’ll need a few things to bottom water your plants:
- A watering can or jug
- A saucer or tray
- A sponge
- Something to scoop dirt with (like a trowel)
- Gloves, if you’re mucking about in the dirt bare-handed (which we generally encourage)
Because the idea behind bottom watering is that the plants are absorbing moisture from their roots instead of their leaves and stems, you want to position them so that the water reaches their roots. This means that your plants should be on something flat, like a table or countertop. If you’ve got more than one plant that you’d like to bottom water simultaneously, it’s helpful to group them so they’re easier to move around. Put all of your stuff in an area where it won’t be spilled (if you have pets running around, this is particularly important). You don’t need much room—even if you decide to bottom water lots of plants at once, all it usually takes is enough space for your plants and containers.
How to Bottom Water Plants
Step 1: Place a plant in its container in a tray, saucer, or container.
Step 2: Fill the tray with water so it is at least one inch deep. This allows the roots to get wet as they absorb what they need. If you are bottom watering plants in pots that have no drainage holes you can use an old newspaper under the pot, then place it on a saucer and fill with water until saturated. The newspaper absorbs excess water and keeps it from sitting around the roots of plants too long.
Step 3: Remove pots from trays after 15-30 minutes, or when the surface soil feels moist to 2 inches down into the potting mix. Pour any remaining water out of trays or saucers if not soaked up by newspaper liners. Do not let plants sit in trays for more than 30 minutes, and never let them sit for more than two hours. Excess moisture causes root rot and kills houseplants; this is why most houseplants should be watered from below only once per week.
The Benefits of Bottom Watering Plants
1. More moisture is retained in the soil.
With bottom watering, the soil is also able to retain more moisture than with top watering. With top watering, much of the water will likely evaporate before it can be absorbed by the plant. Bottom watering delivers the water directly to where it can be best used; in addition, since the top growth of the plant stays drier, there is less chance of disease developing. As roots grow deeper into the soil in search of moisture, they also become stronger and better able to support healthy growth. In this way, bottom watering encourages healthier plants overall.
2. Water only goes where it is needed
Water only goes where it is needed.
By watering from the bottom, you know that water will be available to all parts of the root system. When watering from above, a lot of the soil stays dry because the roots aren’t touching the bottom of the pot. This helps prevent overwatering. The soil can hold more water than you think!
3. Top growth stays drier, decreasing the chance of disease
One of the perks of bottom watering plants is that it allows their top growth to stay dry and decreases the chance of disease. This is because when you bottom water, much of the humidity from your plant’s soil sits at the bottom of your pot, keeping airflow balanced. By contrast, if you only ever water from the top, some moisture will seep through the soil, allowing for a little more airflow, but this can also let mold and fungi grow in that top layer. Since these types of organisms thrive in humid environments and are more likely to appear on damp surfaces, they’re less likely to cause problems with bottom watering plants.
Furthermore, since water doesn’t touch as much of your plant’s soil when you use this technique, there’s less chance that excess moisture will soak into your plant’s roots or stem unless it has been completely dried out. This means less risk for overwatering—and therefore less risk for fungal diseases like Pythium root rot or Sclerotinia stem rot (a type of white rot). The main idea here is that maintaining a finely tuned balance between damp and dry keeps all sorts of potential issues at bay: not too wet and not too dry means a healthy plant!
4. Roots are promoted to grow deeper into the soil
The plants with the longest roots seek out water and nutrients deeper in the soil. This is true for plants with long taproots, like carrots and parsnips, as well as those like dandelions and other weeds that have long lateral roots. When plants are watered from above, their roots tend to be shallower.
When you bottom water your plants, the roots are encouraged to grow downward because they naturally follow the path of moisture.
5. It’s easier to control how much water you’re giving your plant.
The best way to determine how much water your plant needs is to check the soil on your plant and its container. If you’ve grown several houseplants in a range of containers, you may get an idea of how much water each will need by looking at what’s going on with the plants’ neighbors. First, look for areas where the leaves have wilted; if you’re in doubt, cut open a leaf and look for brown or black spots. These are places where it’s logical that water isn’t reaching the roots; if that’s true, then a little less water won’t hurt.
Now, inspect the soil around your plant. If it appears dry, pass over the area again and see whether any areas have dried out completely—if so, then you can be fairly certain that all of your plant’s growing media has dried out as well, so it may not need any additional irrigation at this moment. Alternatively, try to find an area where there still appears moisture; if so, apply more water until there is no wet spot visible without digging into the soil. That’s usually a safe amount—though there may be enough moisture in subsequent months to warrant watering anyway!
Tips for Bottom Watering Plants
Here are some tips for bottom watering:
- When you think the surface of the soil is dry, it’s time to water. The best rule of thumb is to water before the soil dries out. If you wait until your plant is dropping leaves or showing signs of wilting, it’s usually too late—your plant is already in distress. Be especially careful with cacti and succulents, as they can be sensitive to too much water.
- Don’t keep your plants’ soil perpetually wet; soggy soil can lead to root rot and many other issues. In general, most plants should dry out before being watered again. It’s especially important to avoid overwatering if your plant has poor drainage—if roots sit in soggy conditions for too long, they’ll start to degrade and die off (a process called root rot). Because there’s no good way for this diseased area of the roots to send signals when it needs water (the roots are dead), plants with root rot often appear underwatered despite actually being overwatered!
- Remember that plants need sunlight and air circulation just as much as they need water, so try not to crowd them together when planting them in a garden or container. This will help prevent issues like disease and make sure none of them get stuck under a leafy canopy that prevents sunlight from reaching their leaves or blocks their access to fresh air.
Bottom Watering Plants Pros and Cons
Bottom-watering is a technique that’s been around for decades but can be difficult to implement regularly. Doing so means submerging your plants’ roots in water for long periods, which can quickly drain their moisture and cause them to die. For example, ever hear of the petunias in the first scene of Jurassic Park? If they’d been bottom-watering their pots instead of just letting a shallow layer of water collect at the bottom, they could’ve survived because they weren’t dying off due to lack of nutrients. However, many indoor plants don’t have such requirements: they’ll do fine if you give them deep water every few days.
Over time, organic matter will gradually accumulate at the bottom of the pot (in some cases more so than in others), creating enough water reserves to keep your plant alive while still allowing its roots to breathe and process oxygen demands through their leaves. This way it avoids being choked out by an overabundance of water at its root level without risking root rot.
In addition to saving plants from over-watering, there are other benefits—namely what it does for how you interact with your houseplants when you’re not actively caring for them. No longer needing daily or weekly watering means spending less time fussing about overwatering—so much so that I got tired of having my sink full of dirty dishes when I had house guests visiting! My guests were constantly trying new ideas and techniques on how to care for their houseplants (and those were good ideas too!). They began openly expressing confusion about why we’d always have clean dishes after dinner parties and urged us to stop wasting our time with chores like washing up after every meal! In turn, this freed me up as a hostess, who also gained some stress relief regarding all those dirty dishes she was responsible for washing.
Bottom-watering also helps you save money while making your indoor garden look prosperous.
Bottom watering is a technique that works for some plants, but not all.
While bottom watering is a great option for certain plants, it’s not the best choice for all of them. Many plants prefer to have their roots watered from the top down—a practice that feels more natural in our human minds anyway. This type of watering works well for plants with leaves and stems that don’t mind getting wet, like cacti and succulents. It also suits any plant that’s sensitive to chlorine, as this chemical is more easily flushed out of its soil when water trickles down from above.
That being said, there are plenty of houseplants that do benefit from bottom watering. For example:
- African violets
- Caladiums (elephant ear)
- Hoya carnosa compacta (wax plant)
- Impatiens (Busy Lizzie)
- Jade plants (Crassula)
- Lipstick plants (Aeschynanthus)
- Ponytail palms (Beaucarnea)
- Begonias (both tuberous and wax varieties)
- Calla lilies
- Crown of thorns
- Flame violets
- Jade plants (Crassula argentea)
- Kalanchoes (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)
Bottom watering your houseplants can help them grow and flourish if you do it consistently.
If you’re looking to grow houseplants that flourish, bottom watering may be the way to go. Bottom watering your plants allows the water to reach their roots first, giving them what they need to thrive and grow. If you want some healthy plants and don’t want to see any mold or fungus on your plants, then this is the best way for you.
Overwatering is not just a problem for houseplants. If you have bad drainage in your garden, you may find that certain areas of the yard flood after rain or if sprinklers are left on too long. In general, plants need less water during winter when they are dormant. Trees and shrubs can tolerate flooding better than other types of plants, but it’s still best to avoid overwatering if possible.
Why Overwatering Is Bad
The first reason why overwatering is bad is because it deprives roots of oxygen. Healthy roots need oxygen to function properly and when an over-watered plant starts drowning, the lack of oxygen can prevent water from being transported through the vascular system into the stems and leaves. The result is wilting and unattractive growth.
Overwatering also causes root rot and encourages fungi to grow. The soil becomes damp all the time, which makes it harder for excess water to drain away from roots and the soil becomes compacted more easily. When the roots of a plant are congested with water all the time, they can’t take in as many nutrients. This can result in nutrient deficiencies in plants even when high-quality fertilizer has been used on them.
Underwatering is a common problem for gardeners, especially in the heat of summer. And while it’s very easy to do, it can cause severe harm to your plants.
Watering issues are usually caused by well-intentioned gardeners who think they are doing their plants a favor by not over-watering. But underwatering is just as harmful as overwatering and causes stress on the plant. The soil around plants needs to remain moist, but not soggy. If you have ever felt soil that is dry and crumbly, you know what it feels like when a plant needs water.
Dry soil pulls away from the sides of containers and makes a hole when you push your finger down into the potting mix. It also feels dry and powdery when you pull it apart with your fingers.
If you find that your plants need water every day or every other day, consider moving them to larger containers so there is more soil for the roots to draw from. Drip watering systems are also an option for container gardens.
In this video, we’ll be discussing the importance of watering houseplants.
Plants need water to grow and get the nutrients they need to grow. They also need a regular watering schedule with access to a consistent source of water over time.
In addition, plants transpire water through their leaves, which is how they cool themselves down. The water they take in is used by plants to create energy via photosynthesis.