Should You Flush Your Houseplants? How To Decide

Flushing your houseplants is an essential process that helps rid their roots of salt and nutrient buildup that could hinder their growth. However, while the practice can be helpful, it doesn’t seem to affect the final smell or taste of your crop. And this has left many home gardeners wondering if it’s worth it to flush houseplants. .

You should flush your houseplants if the species you’re growing requires you to use a wide range of nutrients, increasing the risk of buildup in the roots. To decide if flushing is worth it, consider the timing, the number of nutrients you’re feeding your plant, and the amount of water you’ll need.

In the following sections, I’ll explore all there is to know about flushing your houseplants. By going through the following considerations, you’ll determine whether the (sometimes demanding) process is worth the effort. 

Consider the Timing

Timing is essential when it comes to the necessity and efficiency of flushing your houseplants. 

Flushing your houseplants whenever you feel like is never a good idea. 

To get the most out of the practice, you’ll want to carefully time it, as there are only three instances when it can be beneficial. Let’s explore these in detail: 

When the Roots Are Overloaded With Nutrients

First, you’ll want to flush your houseplant whenever you fear its roots might’ve gotten overloaded with nutrients. When overloaded with vitamins and minerals, your plants will show signs of overfeeding, which can include: 

  • Droopy tips.
  • Dryness.
  • Browning or yellowing leaves.

If left unattended for too long, overfeeding can lead to a plant’s eventual death. This is why flushing can be crucial, even if it doesn’t necessarily affect a crop’s taste or smell.

When Harvest Time Is Near

Another excellent chance to flush your plants comes near harvest time. Keep in mind that while flushing your houseplants before harvesting them isn’t necessarily a must, it can help them absorb any nutrients still hovering over their roots before being consumed.

It’s also important to note that different species need to be flushed at different times before their harvest. For example, while some varieties might come out more nutritionally rich if flushed a week or two before being reaped, others may only need to go through the process a few days before their harvest date. 

Furthermore, it’s recommended to use a flushing agent instead of plain water prior to harvest. Flushing agents contain chelates, which are organic compounds that can attach themselves to other molecules. 

Therefore, during flushing, these chelates will latch onto the excess nutrients, and other compounds in your plants and clear them out.

Between the Vegetative and Flowering Phases

Lastly, you can also flush your houseplants between the vegetative and flowering phases. During this time, your greenery should be as well-prepared as possible to take in the flowering nutrients. However, the root buildup from the previous cycle might be preventing it from reaching its full absorption potential. Therefore, flushing is recommended. 

Consider How Many Nutrients You Use in Your Maintenance Regimen

The number of nutrients you use in your maintenance regimen is an essential factor when deciding whether flushing your houseplant is a good idea. However, the issue with this is that not only do different species have widely different requirements, but their tolerance to root buildup can also vary.

However, flushing is a very helpful practice if you’re using a wide range of nutrients to keep your houseplant healthy and growing. Not only does the process help rid the roots of excessive minerals and nutrients, but it also allows them to better absorb the sugars that were previously blocked by the micronutrient buildup. 

Also, I want to reiterate that flushing isn’t necessary if your houseplant has average or below-average nutrient needs. However, when you notice the first sign of overfeeding, you should take action immediately.

Consider How Much Water You’ll Need

Flushing is a practice that relies on copious amounts of water to achieve its purpose. However, considering how little effect the process has on a plant’s look, smell, and quality, it can feel wasteful to use gallons of water just to have your greenery planted and fertilized again.

So, how much water do you need for the practice to be successful? There’s no exact answer when it comes to this question, as most gardeners base their flushing habits on their experience.

But a good way to measure the water volume you’ll need to use throughout this process is by observing the amount of liquid that comes out of the watering holes. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want at least 25% of the pot’s capacity to come out of the bottom in water form.

For example, if you have a 10-gallon (37.85 liter) container, you’ll want at least 2.5 gallons (9.46 liters) of water to come out of the watering holes before considering the flushing process complete. In short, the amount of water you’ll need is equal to the amount necessary to saturate the whole soil plus the residue that will come out of the bottom (which you can calculate using the above rule). 

However, keep in mind that depending on the amount of nutrient buildup created on your plant’s roots, you might need to aim for a higher amount of water than 25% of your pot’s volume. As you can imagine, your water needs can quickly add up, therefore, you’ll want to thoroughly consider them before deciding to flush your houseplants.

How To Flush a Houseplant

By this point, you should be well-equipped to determine whether flushing your houseplants is necessary. And if you’re still interested in the practice, you’ll want to learn more about executing it successfully. 

This section will take you through a quick and straightforward step-by-step process to help you flush your houseplants like a pro every time. 

How to Flush Your Plants

Make Sure There’s No Residue Blocking the Drainage Holes

A successful flushing process depends on the water’s ability to simply run off the bottom of the pot once the soil gets saturated. A blocked drainage hole could lead to excessive moisture in the soil, which, can cause poor aeration. Therefore, you’ll want to puncture through each drainage hole with a sharp object to eliminate any blockages.

Find the Correct Setup for the Running Water

During the flushing process, there will be at least a few gallons of water coming off the container. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure the area you choose for the flushing process to take place in can accommodate the water running off. A bathtub or sink would be ideal for this purpose.

Pour the Water on Top of the Soil

Now you can slowly pour the necessary amount of water (which we calculated earlier) directly on top of the soil. It’s crucial to take your time while doing so, as you want the water to have enough time to drain down the bottom and don’t want it overflowing to the top.

Let the Water Drain

It can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day for the flushing process to be completed. Therefore, you’ll want to let the water completely drain before moving the pot to its original location. 

However, throughout the following day or two, there might still be some excess water dripping down the bottom. You can prevent this by using a drip tray.

Final Thoughts

Flushing your houseplants is a highly effective practice that can help eliminate buildup and blockages formed in a houseplant’s roots due to overfeeding. However, the process doesn’t necessarily affect overall plant quality or smell, and it requires time, effort, and copious amounts of water.

Therefore, it’s best to only flush your pants if you’re worried about the risk of overfeeding or if you’re trying to optimize nutrient absorption in your plant.

For in-depth steps for flushing your plants without overwatering the plant, check out my article on the topic: How To Flush Soil Without Overwatering the Plant

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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