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What’s the best way to keep plants healthy? How do you know if your plants are overwatered? What’s the difference between an overwatered plant vs underwatered?

These might seem like simple questions, but if you’re a landscaper, you know that it they are not. The answer will depend on how much water your soil can retain and where you live. 


For example, in California it’s important for plants to be watered regularly because they are used to dry spells. But in Florida or Virginia, watering every day is too often because of our humid weather and over-abundance of rainfall. Wherever you are, you can achieve great curb appeal on your residential or commercial property with these helpful tips.

So what do you do when there isn’t an easy answer? We’ll tell you what common signs to look for when it comes to overwatering and underwatering your plants and how to make sure your plants get just enough water. 

Watering plants is an important part of maintaining a healthy garden. However, many people do not understand the best methods for watering their plants. This blog post will discuss the right way to water your plants, so they are healthier and more attractive. 

When to Water your Plants

It’s important to know when to water your plants and how much is needed. Many people overwater their plants, which can lead to many problems such as root rot, fungal growths, and leaf drop (or dead leaves). 

For best results follow these simple steps:  

1) Check the topsoil for moisture before watering the plant 

2) Water deeply enough so that water penetrates at least 6-8 inches into soil 

3) Allow all excess water to drain away from pot or container 

4) Remember that in humid climates you may need more frequent watering than in dry climates 

5) Avoid letting pots sit in saucers or trays of standing water.

If any of these instructions are followed correctly, they will help ensure your healthy garden.

Can you overwater plants?

Simply put, yes. Overwatering plants is not uncommon.  Fortunately, we can help you prevent this from happening and even show you how to rescue and extend the life of your plants. Below is a list of ways you can recognize if you have overwatered your plants and how to save them.  

When you first set up your plant in its pot or on its new soil, it needs to be watered thoroughly and deeply until the soil is wet all the way down to about 6 inches below ground level. The top layer of dirt should be moist but not soggy with water after this initial deep watering.  

If you use a container that has drainage holes at the bottom, make sure these holes are open before adding any water because if they’re closed then too much pressure builds up and will not properly grow. 

How to Know if Plants are Overwatered?

It’s very simple to know whether or not you have been overwatering your plants.  Below are a few ways you can avoid oversaturating your plants:

  • Watering at night:  Without sunlight, water tends to evaporate less and linger.  Too much water at night may cause the roots to “drown” and have little to no oxygen. However, watering during the daytime assures your plants are getting proper amounts of water and nutrients from the soil while sunlight helps to evaporate excess water from overly saturated plants. 
  • Watering more than once a day: Most plants don’t need to be watered more than once but definitely no more than twice (depending on the weather, as well as the size and species of the plant).  
  • Watering plants even when it rains: Be sure to give your outdoor plants a break if they’ve been exposed to the spring and summer rain.  If there is excessive rain, bring your plants inside and properly set them near a window sill to get proper exposure or indirect sunlight. 
  • No drainage holes in your plant pots: It’s so important to make sure excess water can properly drain off and out of your potted container plants so that they do not become over watered and have lack of oxygen.  With indoor plants, you can purchase specialty pots that properly drain without creating a mess.

Overwatered Plants vs Underwatered

Overwatered and underwatered plants have different signs although similar. With too much water, the roots will develop bacterial or fungal issues so it is best to transplant outside when possible if this occurs in your home. With an underwatered plant, it is not possible to tell immediately if your plant needs water unless the leaves begin to wilt, brown or curl.


Signs of overwatering plants: 

With plants and trees, there are some easily detectable signs and symptoms of an overwatered plant to look for.  There may also be some subtle or less noticeable signs we will share as well.  

Carefully knowing what to observe on the plant is key. Below is a list of features you may notice if your plants have received too much water. 

  • Leaves: It’s a good idea to examine the leaves and stems.  Overwatered leaves and stems will be heavy and droopy.  This can cause stems to break and die off.
  • Color:  The ideal plant is upright and has a vivid green color to the leaves and stems.  The green pigment, known as chlorophyll, is a great indicator or a healthy plant that is receiving proper nutrients through the process of photosynthesis.  However, if the plant has any discoloration or wilting or if you notice any dark brown spots, the plant may be experiencing root rot which keeps oxygen from getting to the plant and affects the leaves and stems.
  • Sunlight: Exposure to sunlight will help evaporate water in the plants and give it the nourishment it needs to make its own food.   Lack of sunlight and too much water will cause weak roots and a quick decline in the plant’s health. 
  • Growth:  If you’re noticing any stunted or slow growth in your outdoor or potted plants, they may also be overwatered.  Healthy plants should have a noticeable, steady growth on a daily basis

Once you know exactly what to look for, the easier it will be to rescue or prevent overwatering your plants. 

Signs of overwatering trees:

If you notice the area around the tree is constantly wet or if new growth withers before it’s fully grown or becomes light green or yellow, you may have an overwatered tree. Also, if the tree’s leaves appear green but are fragile this is a sign the tree has received too much water. On the other hand, under-watered trees typically are much more brittle and have brown or yellowed branches.

Sign of underwatering plants and trees: 


Dry, brittle, dull, shriveled leaves are key indicators of a plant that is lacking water. If the plant is droopy and dry, you can try to water enough to where the soil is damp, but not overly soaked or floating in water.  Continue to gently water it and observe its progress over the next few days. 

As you can see, there are a few ways to tell if your plants are overwatered. We’ve provided some helpful tips for how to keep plants healthy and thriving in the commercial landscape. If you have any questions on this or other landscaping topics, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

If you’re a commercial property owner in need of help keeping your plants healthy, don’t worry. We can take care of that for you. For over a decade, we have been the go-to provider for quality landscape services to clients all over the Lynchburg area and beyond. From our team at CLC Incorporated, we look forward to helping you create a beautiful home exterior for your commercial property.

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