Bottom watering is an excellent way to keep indoor plants healthy. However, you will want to get hold of some essential information before you begin bottom watering your plants. For instance, can bottom-watered plants become over-watered?
You can overwater your plants by bottom watering if you leave them in the water for too long. Roots that sit in stagnant water for long periods can develop root rot leading to the plant’s death. It’s unlikely you will overwater when bottom watering if you remove the plants after 10-15 minutes.
In this article, I will discuss how bottom watering works, explain how to do it properly, go over its benefits and drawbacks, and answer other crucial questions regarding bottom watering. If you’d like to learn more about watering your plants from the bottom, keep reading.
How Bottom Watering Works
As houseplants have become increasingly trendy over the years, bottom watering has also increased in popularity. This method of watering is beneficial if done correctly. So how exactly does bottom watering work?
Bottom watering works by allowing the potted plant’s soil to absorb water from drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. As a result, the moisture is absorbed from the bottom up, which means you are giving your plant’s roots instant hydration. Also, the soil is better able to absorb the exact amount of moisture it can hold and nothing more.
As you can see, the method is simple, and plants respond well to it. Bottom watering is also a great way to minimize soil disruption. Limiting soil disruption is good because soil moved around during watering can lead to exposed roots, harming the plant’s health.
Is It Better To Water Plants From the Top or Bottom?
There are two primary methods for watering houseplants, top and bottom watering. Both are perfectly adequate for hydrating plants, but which is better? Is top or bottom watering more effective?
It is better to alternate between watering plants from the top and the bottom. Bottom watering prevents overwatering and ensures the soil retains just the right amount of moisture. Top watering ensures fertilizer doesn’t build up in the soil leading to the death of the plant.
Even if you prefer bottom watering, it’s a good idea to top water your plants every once in a while. Top watering is an excellent way to leach minerals built up on the soil’s surface, ensuring your plant’s roots don’t end up burned. On the other hand, bottom watering is fantastic at preventing overwatering, especially for plants highly susceptible to root rot.
Pros and Cons of Bottom Watering
Many plant lovers prefer bottom watering their plants. However, as with all plant care methods, there are also some drawbacks to bottom watering your plants. A better understanding of the pros and cons of this method is essential when it comes to being proficient at bottom watering.
Bottom watering offers significant advantages, including:
- Making over-watering more difficult
- Allowing soil to absorb precisely as much water as it can hold
- Preventing root rot
- Promoting healthy root growth
- Creating better nutrient absorption
- Enabling you to water less frequently
It does have its downsides, too, such as:
- Taking longer to water than top watering
- Causing fertilizer build-up in the soil over time
- Encouraging root rot if overdone for prolonged periods
Most of the above cons can be avoided if bottom watering is practiced correctly. However, it’s also essential to note that while bottom watering is fantastic for your plants, it is still vital to occasionally top water to remove possible fertilizer buildup.
How Long Should Plants Sit in Water When Bottom Watering?
Now that you know a little more about how bottom watering works and the benefits of this practice, it’s essential to understand how long plants can sit in water. So, how long do your plants need to soak when watered from the bottom?
Plants should sit in water for 10-15 minutes when bottom watering. During this time, the soil will absorb all the water it can hold at a time. After 15 minutes, the plant should be removed and excess water drained from the drainage holes in the pot.
If you accidentally leave your plant in water for more than 15 minutes, you don’t need to panic. Plants are resilient, and the occasional longer soak won’t harm them. However, do your best to remove the plant promptly and ensure that the pot’s drainage holes are functioning correctly.
Plants should never sit in stagnant water for prolonged periods. Too much water can cause your plant’s roots to rot, weakening your plant and eventually leading to its death.
How Often Can You Bottom Water Plants?
Bottom watering can be highly beneficial for delicate plants and a great way to accurately measure how much moisture your soil absorbs. But, how often should you be bottom watering your plants?
You can typically bottom water plants every 3 – 5 days. However, each type of plant will have slightly different water requirements, so always double-check. If the soil is still saturated with water, it’s best to allow the dirt to dry before bottom watering again.
A great way to tell if your plant needs watering is to press a knuckle into the soil. The plant needs time to dry out if the soil is still damp. On the other hand, the plant will benefit from bottom watering if the soil is dry.
How To Bottom Water Your Plants
Now that you know more about what makes bottom watering beneficial for your plant’s health, it’s time to discuss how to begin the bottom watering process. Luckily, bottom watering is relatively simple and doesn’t require many preparations.
You will need:
- A potted plant
- A tray or shallow bowl to fill with water
How to bottom water your potted plants:
- Fill a tray or shallow bowl with 1-2 inches (2.54-5.08 cm) of water. If it’s a large pot, you can add more water. The amount of water isn’t significant as the soil will stop absorbing water when it’s full of moisture.
- Place your potted plant in the water tray or bowl. Leave it to absorb the water. Setting a timer is a good idea, so you know to return in 10-15 minutes to check on the plant.
- Remove the plant from the watering tray after 10-15 minutes. You can check that your soil has absorbed the water by gently poking a finger into it. If the soil is damp, your plant is ready to be removed. If the soil is dry, you might want to consider replacing it.
- Allow the potted plant to drain away excess water. It’s normal for some of the water to drain back out after bottom watering. Placing a water-catching tray around the pot’s base will help prevent water from soiling your floors.
- Place the plant back where it belongs. Once the soil dries out or the proper amount of time has elapsed, it’s time to bottom water again.
As you can see, the process is straightforward. Also, you can modify the steps to suit your specific plant’s needs better. For example, larger plants in bigger pots will likely require more water and larger bottom watering trays. The amount of time they need to absorb moisture may also be longer.
You can read my beginner’s guide on how to bottom water plants here: How to Water Plants from the Bottom (Beginner’s Guide)
How Do You Know When a Plant Is Done Bottom Watering?
It’s essential to know when to stop bottom watering your plant. So, apart from timing yourself, how can you tell if a plant has been adequately watered?
You know a plant is done bottom watering when the soil is moist. Too much water can lead to root rot. However, if you remove the plant from the stagnant water in time, bottom watering is an excellent way of avoiding overwatering and preventing root rot.
Removing your potted plants from the bottom watering tray in time is essential as your plant needs time to dry out between each watering.
The best way to ensure your plant doesn’t become overwatered is to test the soil for moisture and remove your plants after 15 minutes of soaking. More time can be allotted for larger plants with more soil to moisten.
Can You Bottom Water Overnight?
As I have previously stated, bottom watering is more time-consuming than the traditional method of top watering. So is there a way to place your plant in the water and forget about them? Can you water your potted plants overnight?
You can bottom water overnight, but it’s ill-advised. Prolonged exposure to stagnant water is dangerous for your plant’s health and can lead to issues like root rot. Leaving a plant in water overnight can lead to overwatering and accidentally cause root rot.
Some plants are more resistant to overwatering. Air plants, for example, can occasionally be watered overnight. However, be sure to research the matter before watering your potted plants for an extended period. When in doubt, restrict your watering to 10-15 minutes.
Overwatering your plants via bottom watering is extremely unlikely since the soil can only absorb so much water in a limited amount of time. However, overwatering your plant’s roots can still result in unwanted issues like root rot.
Bottom watering is an excellent way to give your plants appropriate water for their health. Additionally, the moisture is delivered directly to the roots of a plant when bottom watering instead of filtering down to it through the soil.