How to Tell if you are Over-Watering or Under-Watering

Filed under Plants, Misc by Lauren Cook on Wednesday, July 4, 2012.

     Watering can be a tricky thing this time of year.  With the sweltering heat of summer, combined with a sunny day, plants can start to show symptoms of stress.  One's first reaction is to water, but sometimes over-watering can be just as detimental to a plant's health as under-watering. 

    Symptoms of both over and under-watering can look very similar.  Leaves turn brown and wilt.  Often times, when leaves turn brown and wilt due to under-watering, those dead leaves will be crispy and dry. While with over-watering, those leaves may still be soft and limp.  Over-watering can easily lead to root rot of the plant.  Plants infected with root rot will begin to brown in one section or side of the plant and the dieing off of branches or parts of the plant will spread until the entire plant is deceased.  Sometimes, a plant can look dead, but is still alive even though it has lost all of its leaves.  Make sure to scratch the surface of the plants stems with a knife or a pair of hand pruners.  If you can still see green, then the plant is still alive and maybe it was simply dropping leaves as a defense mechanism to the heat/drought.  Cutting back the plant and adding supplemental hand-watering will help bring the plant back to life.

    The only sure-fire way to determine if you are over or under-watering is to routinely check your soil moisture.  You do this, by sticking your finger 1-2" down into the surrounding soil.  If the soil is moist than let it be.  Check again tomorrow.  If the soil is dry, then it's time to water.  Water deeply and aim all water at the roots, avoiding getting a lot of water on leaves and blooms.  For mor information, check out our April 2012 blog "How do IWwater My New Plants?"  .

    Just like us, plants can feel the effects of summer sun and heat.  They, too, transpire and require a little extra water to stay in tip-top shape.  Don't foget about your green friends this summer!  Learn the techniques to successful watering and your yard will be the greenest on the block!

 Think you know if this is a result of over-watering or under-watering?  I'll give you a hint...the leaves are fried crispy!