Could Watering Your Plants Kill Them?

Usually, keeping your plants watered is a good thing! It keeps them from wilting, allows them to absorb nutrients, and just in general helps them stay healthy!  

But sometimes, there can be too much of a good thing, and water + plants is a good example. While the right amount of water helps a plant thrive, too much water is definitely a bad thing!

If you're getting a lot of rain, or you were a little overzealous in watering your plants, you might you might notice something unexpected: wilting.

That seems strange, right? Why would a plant wilt when it received SO MUCH water?  

Well, basically, roots need oxygen, just like we need oxygen.  If the ground is waterlogged, the plant can't "breath," and it will drown. Wilting, even when the plant has been watered, is an indication that this has happened.

First, the good news: you might be able to save over-watered potted plants, or those that are in raised beds (although raised beds in general are less likely to become waterlogged).  Your main strategy should be:

  • prune off any dead foliage
  • re-pot or re-plant in freshly mixed soil
  • make sure drainage holes in the pots are clear of debris, and consider drilling a few more holes if the pot was waterlogged.

Now, the not so good news: this is really a drainage issue, and improving drainage for landscape plants can be an expensive, time consuming process. If you notice that larger shrubs are wilting, for instance, you may not be able to save them as easily as a potted plant. Instead, I recommend inviting a professional designer or contractor to visit your property and assess the situation for you. They can help you figure out the best next step.

Bottom Line: Water deeply once or twice a week as needed, and monitor the soil and condition of your plants.  If the ground stays saturated a day or more after watering, or your plants start to look wilted after a heavy watering, you may have a drainage issue.  

Linda KelsoComment