Recherche Connexion


How To Prevent Overwatering or Underwatering Your Houseplant

How To Prevent Overwatering or Underwatering Your Houseplant

Watering is perhaps the trickiest element of plant care, even for the most experienced green thumb. While underwatering can present issues for those of us who are busy or forgetful, it can perhaps be even harder to break the mindset of, “more of a good thing is always a good thing.”

Here are some tips from our plant experts on determining whether you are overwatering or underwatering your plants. Here are some signs to look out for:

Signs of Overwatering:

The main issue with overwatering is it can be hard to catch. One maintains a strict watering schedule, and through the best of intentions, winds up accidentally drowning their plant. The best tactic to take is constantly evaluating the success of your plant, to avoid any of the following issues.

Soggy Soil:

Consistently wet soil is a clear sign of overwatering. The soil should be moist, not waterlogged.

Yellowing Leaves:

If the leaves turn yellow and are soft and limp, it might indicate overwatering. This may also be a sign of insufficient light- which is tied to overwater, as light and the heat it produces often aid in the evaporation process. If you feel these may be an issue in your setup, add a growlight. We recommend the Aspect™ Hanging Pendant Grow Light!


Despite the soil being wet, the plant may wilt, which is a sign of too much water.

Mold or Algae on Soil Surface:

If you notice mold, algae, or a musty smell, it could mean there's too much moisture.

Root Rot:

This is a serious condition caused by overwatering, where roots turn brown/black and mushy.

Why is Overwatering so Dangerous?

How much damage could a little extra water do, you might ask. Well, a lot, unfortunately. The main issue with over watering is that it creates standing water for pests and diseases to grow, problems which will affect not only your garden, but also the other residents of your home.

Root Rot and Plant Diseases:

Overwatering can cause root rot, a condition where the plant's roots decay due to excess moisture. This condition can spread to other plants, especially if they share the same soil or water source.

Fungal Growth:

Overly moist conditions are ideal for the growth of fungi and mold. These can spread to other plants and surfaces in your home, posing health risks, especially to those with allergies or respiratory issues.

Pest Infestations:

Overwatered plants can attract pests such as fungus gnats, which thrive in moist soil. Once established, these pests can easily infest nearby plants.

Soil Nutrient Depletion:

Overwatering can leach essential nutrients from the soil, making them less available to the plant. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies not only in the overwatered plant but also in nearby plants if they share the same soil or planter.

Humidity Issues:

Excessive watering can increase the humidity levels in your home. High humidity can encourage the growth of mold and mildew on walls and other surfaces and might also affect other houseplants that prefer drier conditions.

Water Waste and Environmental Impact:

Overwatering contributes to water waste, which is an environmental concern, especially in areas facing water scarcity. Additionally, if you're using fertilizers, overwatering can cause runoff of these chemicals, which can be harmful to the environment.

Structural Damage to Your Home:

In extreme cases, consistent overwatering can lead to water damage in your home. This could be in the form of water stains, warped wood, or even mold growth on walls and floor

Signs of Underwatering:

Often, gardeners will see any wilting foliage or sign of illness in a plant and immediately assume that a plant is being underwatered. While this can certainly be the case, it is best to pay attention to the nuance of the symptoms your plant may be showing, so as to avoid addressing the issue incorrectly.

Dry Soil:

If the soil is dry to touch or is pulling away from the edges of the pot, it's a sign of insufficient watering.

Drooping Leaves:

Leaves that look wilted or droopy, but not yellow, might indicate underwatering.

Brown, Dry Leaf Edges:

The edges or tips of the leaves might turn brown and crispy.

Slow Growth or Leaf Drop:

Underwatered plants often stop growing and may drop leaves to conserve water.

Brittle or Brown Roots:

When underwatered, roots can become brittle or turn brown.

Why is Underwatering so Dangerous?

Even though overwatering is a surprisingly prevalent issue, be sure not to over correct and instead pull back too hard on the watering can. Underwatering can still present many issues, some of them very similar and as severe as overwatering. Here are some of the problems that lack of water can cause your plants.

Stunted Growth and Development:

Underwatered plants can experience stunted growth. This not only affects the plant's health and aesthetic appeal, but it can also impact the overall balance and design of an indoor garden or plant collection.

Pest Infestations:

Plants weakened by underwatering are more susceptible to pest infestations. Pests like spider mites and aphids are attracted to stressed plants. Once established, these pests can quickly spread to other healthy plants nearby, creating a larger problem.

Disease Susceptibility:

Similar to pest problems, a plant weakened by insufficient water can become more susceptible to diseases. Fungal and bacterial infections can take hold more easily, and these diseases can spread to other plants in the vicinity.

Soil Degradation:

Chronically dry soil can become compacted and lose its structure. This degradation can affect the plant's root system and also make the soil less usable for future planting, impacting the overall health of the indoor planting environment.

Microclimate Imbalance:

Plants contribute to the indoor environment by maintaining humidity levels and purifying the air. Underwatered plants can't perform these functions effectively, leading to a less favorable indoor microclimate. This can indirectly affect other houseplants that thrive in more humid conditions.

Loss of Plant Diversity:

If underwatering leads to the death of certain plants, it can reduce the diversity of your indoor plant collection. This not only affects the aesthetic value but also the ecological balance of your indoor garden, as different plants contribute differently to air quality and humidity.

Negative Psychological Effects:

Plants have been shown to have a positive effect on mental well-being. Losing plants due to underwatering can diminish these psychological benefits.

How To Properly Water A Plant?

To ensure you're watering your plants correctly, follow these tips:

Check the Moisture Level:

Before watering, check if the top inch of the soil is dry. Stick your finger about an inch into the soil. If it's dry, it's time to water; if it's still moist, wait a bit longer. For a more precise measurement, consider using a soil moisture meter.

Understand Your Plant's Needs:

Different plants have different watering requirements. Research the specific needs of your plants. You may need to adjust watering seasonally, as plants generally need more water during their growing season (spring and summer) and less during the dormant season (fall and winter).


Make sure your pots have drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. Pots with drainage holes at the bottom allow excess water to escape, which is crucial in preventing waterlogging and root rot.

Water Deeply and Less Frequently:

Instead of frequent shallow watering, water deeply and let the soil dry out between watering sessions. This encourages deeper root growth and helps plants become more drought-tolerant.

Observe Your Plant:

Pay attention to changes in your plant’s appearance. Drooping, yellowing, or brown leaves can indicate watering issues. Adjust your watering habits accordingly

Use the Right Type of Water:

Some plants are sensitive to chemicals in tap water. Using rainwater or distilled water can be beneficial for these plants.

Consider the Pot and Soil Type:

The type of pot and soil can affect water retention. Clay pots and sandy soil drain faster and might require more frequent watering, while plastic pots and loamy soil retain moisture longer.

Group Plants with Similar Needs Together:

This makes it easier to water plants appropriately according to their specific needs.

Create a Watering Schedule:

While it's important to adjust to your plant's needs, having a basic watering schedule as a guideline can be helpful. Adjust as necessary based on the plant's response and environmental conditions.

Be Mindful of Environmental Conditions:

Light, temperature, and humidity all affect how quickly soil dries out. Plants in brighter, hotter conditions may need more frequent watering than those in cooler, shadier spots. If you are having trouble regulating light conditions, consider adding a grow light. We recommend the Grove™ Grow Bar Light Fixture.


Proper plant care is all about balance! Remember, the key to successful plant care is balancing the right amount of water according to the specific needs of each plant.