How Long Does It Take For A Plant To Recover From Overwatering?

Who doesn’t want to convince themselves (and their neighbors) that they have a green thumb? But taking proper care of your garden is another story.

It is the human tendency to overcompensate after ignoring something for a long time.

People often buy plants in a hurry (to stay cool socially and mentally!), and it ends up in some corner of the house after the first few days.

Some people do not have the time to water them regularly, so they think it is good to flood the plant at once and forget about it for a long time.

If these habits seem familiar and you worry about the damage caused to the plant because of overwatering, this is just the article for you.

How long does it take for a plant to recover from overwatering?

Generally, it takes about a week for most plants to recover from overwatering. However, this time is not constant for all of them.

It varies from plant to plant while also depending on their species, environmental conditions, soil type, pot material, etc.

These factors can increase or decrease the amount of time required by a plant to recover from the after-effects of overwatering.

Believe it or not, overwatering is a more common cause of dead houseplants than underwatering.

Slight negligence is better than over-enthusiastic behavior when it comes to taking care of houseplants. Whatever you do, please do not project your guilt by overwatering your plant after ignoring it for a long time.

Overwatering plants Solutions

Plants have their way of showing you are overwatering them. You have to look for symptoms that different plants exhibit if they are hydrated more than they can handle.

If your plant is showing the following symptoms, chances are, it might be telling you to reduce the watering:

  • Droopy plant indicates root rot which is most likely caused by overwatering.
  • If the soil is wet and muddy, it means you are overwatering it. The soil should be evenly moist and not wet or soggy.
  • Yellow and falling leaves are also a symptom of overwatering. However, these symptoms are also exhibited by underwatering. So, judge correctly according to your watering schedule. If you are watering every day, these are probably the effects of overwatering. But if you have not watered for a long time, the leaves become dry and pale. Another way to find out the reason is to look at the soil. If the soil is soggy most of the time, it means you are overwatering. But if it is cracking and powdery, it is because of underwatering.
  • If your plant is suffering from fungal diseases or attracting lots of moisture-loving pests, it might be due to overwatering. If your plant is showing these symptoms and you feel you may have been too kind in the past few days, the first thing to do is stop watering immediately. Give the plant some room to breathe. If there is only surficial damage, that is, the overwatering has not led to root rot, the plant will recover within a week if you stop the watering.

The duration, however, depends on the compactness of the soil. Further steps that you can take to help the plant recover from overwatering are:

  1. Remove the dead or dying leaves and other parts of the plant: You cannot revive these parts, and they also increase the pressure on the roots, which are already getting insufficient nutrition due to overwatering.
  2. Move the plant in the shade: Although this might seem like negative work, it is quite helpful in saving the plant. The roots of an overwatered plant suffocate due to an improper supply of oxygen to them or root rot. The weak roots are unable to efficiently supply water to the stem and other parts of the plants. If you keep the plant in the sun, the transpiration of water from the leaves will be faster. It will result in more stress for the plant. So, it is better to keep the plant in a bit of shade.
  3. Check for root rot: To check for root rot, you have to take the plant out of the plant and inspect the roots. If some of the roots are black, brown, or mushy, I’m afraid the root rot has begun. First off, cut off the affected roots carefully to prevent the infection from spreading. If the rot is starting, cutting off the infected roots will be enough to save the plant.
  4. Adjust the leaves: If the root rot is not so little and you cut a large portion of the roots, make sure to cut the stem and leaves approximately. If the leaves and branches are large and the roots are small, the amount of nutrition supplied to all the plant parts will be insufficient. The remaining roots should be sufficient to sustain the complete plant. Clip down your plant and reduce it to a size compatible with the roots. (And you can keep it at your desk also!)
  5. Repotting the plant: Although repotting is hard on a plant, especially if it is weak from overwatering, sometimes this is the Hail Mary when saving the plant.

If the current pot does not have enough drain holes (which, by the way, is a big reason behind overwatering), repotting is the best alternative. If there is no place for the excess water to flow, it might leave the roots sitting in the water for too long, resulting in root rot.

If it is a plastic pot, you can consider poking the holes into it yourself. But if it is a cement pot or of any other material, repotting is the only option.

Repot the plant in a pot with adequate draining holes to provide a proper flow of water. Place the pot on a tray to collect the excess water.

Use proper soil in the new pot. Mix some perlite to make it more porous so that it enables proper draining of water. If the root rot has already occurred, repotting is the best option.

However, if you decide to put the plant back in the same pot after cutting out the rotted roots, make sure to clean the old pot thoroughly to get rid of any bacteria or fungus to prevent future rot.

Factors that can affect the recovery time

After taking all the necessary measures to ensure the recovery of an overwatered plant, all one can do is wait. There is no fixed time for plants to recover. It depends on a variety of factors. Those factors are listed below:

  • Type of plant: If your plant is a fast-growing one, it will recover quickly from overwatering. It is because fast-growing plants utilize more water than slow-growing ones.
  • Type of soil: If the soil is just a potting mix or compost, its drainage is inferior. Suppose the drainage is poor, recovery time from overwatering increases drastically. Add some coarse sand or perlite to the soil to increase the drainage. This way, water will pass more freely and increase the recovery rate. Not just soil, the type of pot also decides the drainage capacity. If the pot does not have enough (or any) drainage holes, make some or repot the plant into another pot to improve drainage and decrease recovery time.
  • The extent of the damage: If the damage is severe, the recovery time will also be great. If you have been overwatering your plant for a long time, but you just realized it (some plants are passive-aggressive like that!), you must have increased the damage too much. You will have to cut off a large portion of the roots, and recovery is slow in such cases.
  • Time of year: In most plants, the growth is faster in summer than in winters. So, the rate of recovery is faster in summers than in winters. Although, this factor is not valid for all the plants and all the geographic areas.
  • Light: Plants utilize light to grow. But if the roots are weak, keeping the plant in direct light to increase growth is not a good idea.

It puts more stress on the plant that is trying to recover. But do not cut off the light entirely and keep the plant in the dark.

Keeping it in the indirect shade is ideal for increasing the recovery rate.

Conclusion

Please repeat after me: Watering is not the answer to all the problems faced by plants.

Being overzealous with water does more harm than good for your plants. Study about the plant you buy and water it accordingly.

If you forget to water once, do not water two times the next day. If you do overwater once or twice, do not worry. Plants generally bounce back if given some time and space. Killing them with kindness does not work with plants.