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signs of overwatering plants

We know. You love your plants. You love your plants so much that you’re out in your landscape, hose in tow, hand watering them even after your irrigation system has run through its morning cycle, even after a good rain shower.

Step away from the spigot, friend.

Your H2O-happy love for your plants could be hurting them more than it’s helping. Not sure whether you’re smothering the natural life in your landscape?

Here are a few telltale signs you may be overwatering your plants.

Overwatering sign #1: wilting

“But I thought my plants wilted if I wasn’t watering enough!” you might say. There are subtle differences between overwatered wilted and under-watered wilted! If your plant’s leaves are wilted, brown and dry, you’re probably not giving them enough water.

But if your leaves look wilted, a bit lifeless and have lost their color, chances are you’ve overwatered. If those wilting leaves also start to drop off the plants, it’s definitely time to re-examine your watering habits.

Overwatering sign #2: mold

If you notice mold on the surface of the soil, on the stems of your plants or on their lives, that’s a sure sign that you’re overwatering.

Wilting leaves and mold are the two most obvious signals that plants are drowning.

Overwatering sign #3: rotting roots

Root rot is a more subtle sign of overwatering, but it’s also the most troublesome.

Yes, you want to be sure the entire root zone gets moisture when you water. But the roots of your plants also need oxygen to help them grow. And when you’re constantly drenching them with supposedly life-giving water, the roots start to choke and won’t be able to take in the air they need, stunting your plants’ growth.

Those drowning roots are also more susceptible to diseases like Pythium, Phytophthera and Rhizoctonia. (Sound scary, right?) Healthy roots are white and clean looking. Diseased roots are brown, black, slimy or — worst of all — have completely dissolved.

If your plants’ roots are just stunted, you may have an opportunity to revive them. But if you’ve got a disease, it may be time to start over. (Consult your landscaping professional!)

Typically, plants need about an inch of water per week — though the actual amount will vary depending on the weather and general climate. So when you go outside to water, put your thumb in the soil. If your thumb comes out damp, skip watering for the day. Your plants are doing fine! (They call ’em rules of thumb for a reason!)

Be sure, too, that your containers have plenty of drainage and are getting the right amount of light every day.

Better yet, leave watering to the pros. Neave Irrigation can work with you to create a comprehensive irrigation strategy for your landscape that takes all the guesswork out of it for you. Call us at (845) 463-0592, or fill out our web form to have someone get in touch with you.

And if constantly wielding a hose is something you need to feel complete, buy yourself a baby pool, and fill ‘er up. Your toes will thank you on a hot summer day, and your plants won’t have to suffer for your hose habit.

Image credit: Shakespeare

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