Gardening: Are you overwatering plants?

Worried about the state of those lovely Gerberas and Dahlias in your balcony garden? Are your plants turning yellow and brown in turns? Do they look lifeless? Water, repotted soil, ample sunlight, no pests  – a quick look at the checklist says everything’s taken care of.  So, what’s killing them? It’s easy to step over the fine line between caring for plants and overdoing it. As Stephanie Donaldson says, our kindness can prove fatal for houseplants. Over-watering or lack of water are the most common reasons for healthy houseplants dying with a couple of weeks after being brought from the nursery.

Look at the images below.

Drowning plant

Drowning plant

If your plants look anything like this, then it is an indication of overwatering. Take a closer look at the leaves. Towards the bottom of the plant, close to its roots, the leaves have turned yellow, and the plant is bent outside.

Yellow and wilting leaves

Yellow and wilting leaves

Leaves bent outside

Leaves bent outside

The immediate question that pops to one mind is if you can save  the plants? Yes and no. Yes, if you notice the first few yellow leaves at the bottom and stop watering for a while giving the plant enough time to recoup and get back to its healthy state. If you continue with the same watering pattern as before, it will give away sooner than later. No, if the plant has already lost more than 50% of its leaves before you start taking action. I’ve found it’s always easier to rescue a under-watered plant than a over-watered one.

If the leaves turn brown towards the top of the plant and wither, it indicates the plant is dying for lack of moisture  and needs to be watered more frequently. Always, dip your finger on the surface of the pot to gauge the moistness. If it feels dry, you need to water it. Excess water will come out through the drain holes. On the other hand, if the surface is cracking, it means it’s been a while you paid attention to the greens in your balcony.

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