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In 2021, Water Your Plants From The Bottom

Overwatering is something you tend to do? Plants can determine how much water they require.

By Garden’s Tool, a nice bottom watering set-up is provided.

You probably water your potted plants by pouring water on top of the soil. Although this can be an effective way to hydrate your plants, it may not be the best method for many varieties. Certain plants, such as African violets, can become discolored and spotted if they are exposed to water. In root-bound plants, moisture may not penetrate the soil, but instead run down the sides. By watering potted plants from the bottom, these problems are eliminated and the soil is more effectively moistened. It will save you time and effort as well as make your plants healthier

Bottom watering is a method of giving your plants the exact amount of water they need. This is a progressive approach to plant care.

We’ll talk about why bottom watering makes sense, then we’ll show you how to do it.

Bottom watering: What is its purpose?

Most plant parents drench their plants completely, despite their best intentions. This can result in root rot and other issues due to soggy soil. In addition, some houseplant varieties, such as African Violets, have sensitive leaves that can become spotty and discolored when splashed. When roots are tightly entangled – or almost so – water may run straight down the sides of the container, resulting in an under-watered plant.

Watering the top of the plant may be just right for the diligent plant parent. Nevertheless, watering plants from the bottom is a more efficient and foolproof method for most people. In addition, it makes for stronger roots, as the roots are constantly growing and reaching downwards towards the moisture. Lastly, it ensures that the entire plant has had a satisfying drink: every inch of soil, down to the very last root.

Warning: Do not splash.

How to Water Bottom Watering Plants

Step 2, fill your sink or container with enough water to reach the bottom of the soil. 

If your planter is filled only with soil, you can use any level of water. When you have drainage rocks at the bottom of your planter, the water level needs to be higher than the rocks to reach the soil. Different types of soil absorb water in different ways. When you use cactus soil that has a lot of rock, it won’t absorb water as well as something with bark and sphagnum moss. As an analogy, a towel absorbs more than paper. Does that make sense?

Make sure you have enough water in your sink or container for the plant so it can soak up all the water it needs. If you don’t put enough water in the container, the plant will be under watered.

Step 2: Put your plants in the water! When the soil is very dry and you are still using a grow pot (the container the plant came in), the soil may float. Prior to leaving it alone, make sure it’s sitting straight in the water. I am telling you this because I may have put a plant with very dry soil in my sink to water, and it floated and tipped over on its own without my knowledge. I had to clean up a lot of mess. Just a heads up on that!

Step 3, Let the plants sit in their bath for about 10 minutes before checking on them. You’ll know they’re ready to emerge if the soil is moist all the way to the top.

Sometimes the very top of the soil does not get wet, and that’s OK. Just before I pull it out, I top it off with water.

Step 4, Drain the water from your sink and let the plants hang out for a few minutes.

That’s all! I’ve been bottom watering all my plants and they are so happy!

What Else You Need to Do About Watering the Bottom

When your plant is ready to be bottom watered, the top few inches of soil should be thoroughly dry. Use a soil moisture sensor—or if that sounds a little too extra for your level of plant parenthood, just poke a finger in. If it feels dry down to the second knuckle, it’s go time.

Begin by making sure your container has ample drainage holes. No plant can sit in a bath of water. You might eventually have root rot if drainage is insufficient. Your next step is to find a vessel that can hold about an inch of water. This activity can be performed in a baking dish, or some plant parents take this activity into the bathtub–an option we support as long as you resist the urge to use tap water.

When watering plants from the bottom, it is better to use distilled water rather than tap water since chlorine can be toxic in large amounts.

Fill your container about half-way with distilled or filtered water and let it sit for 15-ish minutes. Then, check your container to see if enough moisture has been soaked up. It should be lightly moist up to the very top. If it’s not, add more water and let it soak for another 20 minutes. When done, shake off any excess water and carefully move your plant back to its original location.

Note these things:

  • Never, ever let your plant sit in water for a prolonged period of time. We’ve seen people keep their plants soaking overnight, but we’d advise against it.
  • Once a month, you’ll want to wash the soil through from the top to eliminate any salt or minerals that may have built up on the surface.
  • If your soil is particularly dry—like a cactus or succulent mix—be careful your container doesn’t float to the surface of the bath and topple over.
  • Yes, you can add liquid soluble fertilizer to your plants when using the bottom watering method. Just be careful not to stain your tub, sink, or counter.

Our favorite method of ensuring our houseplants get plenty of water is to water from the bottom. This takes the guesswork out of watering, and ensures fuzzy-leaved plants’ healthy foliage.

Did you try watering the bottom of your plants? Please let us know how you liked it in the comments below.

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