How can I tell if my indoor plant is overwatered or underwatered?

Quick Answer

Giving your plants the perfect drink can be tricky! Too little, and they're drooping like a wilted teabag. Too much, and they get a soggy bottom and grumpy leaves. Overwatering means yellowing leaves, a general feeling of flop (science calls it wilting!), fuzzy soil, and a pot that feels like it could double as a weight. Underwatering shows itself with crispy leaves, that same sad droop, and bone-dry soil. Keep an eye on your leafy pals and find the happy medium – they'll reward you for it!

Further Information

Ask any experienced plant person, and they'll tell you: watering is where most newbies go wrong. Too much, too little, it's easy to mess up! But don't panic – with a little know-how, you can avoid the most common problems.

Overwatering = Root Rot

  • The Problem: Soggy soil chokes the roots, so they literally rot away. Plant can't drink, even with water all around it!
  • Signs:
    • Yellowing, mushy leaves (especially lower ones)
    • Wilting, even though the soil is wet
    • Mouldy-looking soil
    • Pot feels surprisingly heavy
  • The Fix:
    • STOP watering! Let the soil dry out COMPLETELY before watering again.
    • If it's bad, gently tip the plant out of the pot. Any mushy, smelly roots need to be snipped off. Repot with fresh soil.

Underwatering = Sad, Thirsty Plant

  • The Problem: Your plant is literally shriveling up from lack of water.
  • Signs:
    • Drooping, crispy leaves
    • Dry soil (remember that finger test!)
    • Slow or no growth
  • The Fix:
    • Water deeply until it runs out the drainage holes (crucial – no soggy saucers, please!)
    • Start checking the soil more often so you catch it before your plant gets REALLY unhappy

Tricky Part: The Symptoms Can Be Similar!

That's where checking the soil is so important. Overwatered plants wilt because the roots are dead, under watered plants wilt because they're thirsty. Sounds obvious, but it trips up a lot of people!

Extra Tips to Avoid Watering Woes

  • Drainage is KING: Pots MUST have holes in the bottom. No holes = root rot waiting to happen
  • Know Your Plant: A succulent in a tiny pot will need a very different watering schedule than a big, leafy jungle plant!
  • Season Matters: Plants usually need more water when actively growing (spring/summer), and less when it's cooler and darker
  • Don't Be Scared: Underwatering is usually easier to fix than overwatering! is Your Watering Wingman (or Wingwoman!)

We're here to help you find the perfect watering balance for your leafy pals!

  • Plant-specific care guides: Most popular plants have these on our site, including watering tips
  • "Beginner-friendly" plant collection: These tough cookies can handle a bit of neglect, perfect for newbies!
  • Help, My Plant is Wilting! Send us a photo of the whole plant (including pot) and we'll diagnose the problem.
  • Our team is full of plant geeks who LOVE troubleshooting!

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