10 Signs You’re Overwatering Your Plants

This is the easiest mistake for indoor gardeners to make, and luckily it's also one of the easiest to correct.

The most common cause of plant death is overwatering. Showing your plants too much love and being overly enthusiastic with the watering can actually cause plants to wither.

Overwatered plants use up so much energy lifting water out of the soil that they have none left for growth!

What are the signs of over-watering house plants?

1. The Pot Sucks in Moisture

If you see deep into the pot and there is moisture at the bottom, then it hasn't been watered enough. When soil is fully saturated with water, oftentimes an interior well forms where all the excess water sits once it has drained down through the pot.

It's not good for the plants, but it’s a cinch to deal with. Just dump the excess water out of the pot. Over time this well will get deeper and wider (oftentimes forming a cone shape) but you can still dump any standing water in there without worrying about drying out your plants too much.

2. The Leaves Are Curling Over

When your plant is wilting, you might wonder if it needs more water or if it's dying. This is often the case with spider plants, which will wilt dramatically when they need water. But even though they're known to do this (and many other plants too), sometimes it's a sign that they're being over-watered. Overwatering causes the leaves to curl up at the tips and edges, as seen here.

Plant leaves curling over

3. Leaves Are Faded In Colour

If your plant’s leaves are faded in colour – often looking paler or washed out – it's likely a sign you have been overwatering them. Overwatering kills roots and stunts growth, which basically just means the plant doesn't have a well-developed root system to take up water at a healthy rate.

4. Leaves Are Droopy

If your plant leaves are wilting or drooping over, it's likely because you've been overwatering them. Overwatering causes the roots to rot and the plant starts using water less efficiently. This results in a droopy-looking plant that's not as perky or green as it once was.

5. The Plant Is Spotted Or Overgrown

Overwatering can cause your plants leaves to turn brown and spots or mould may start growing on them, like these spider plants here. Overwatering also causes leaves to grow very large, as was the case with these Peace Lilies which were overwatered for months.

6. The Plant Is Sagging

Over time, if you keep overwatering your potted plants – killing their roots and stunting growth – they will actually start to sag or lean over. Overwatering causes the roots to rot and the plant's growth to slow down or stop, which means it can't pump water into its system fast enough so it starts leaning toward the light source for help.

7. Leaves are dropping

When a plant has too much water it can cause leaf drop. Leave may start becoming soft and mushy and eventually drop off. Roots that are suffering from root rot will not be feeding the leaves.

10. Yellowish new growth

New leaves may start off as a sickly yellow colour.

9. You have a lot of pests

When you overwater the bad drainage and standing water attracts flies who lay eggs. If you have a sudden increase in fungus gnats or whiteflies, check all your plant pots.

10. There are white salt crystals on the soil line

Overwatering can lead to a buildup of salts on the top of the soil. It can cause damage to plants if left in the pot.

How do I fix an overwatered plant?

A woman watering a plant with a yellow watering can

While it might be scary to think of killing your plants from overwatering, it's not hard to correct. Overwatering is actually one of the easiest problems to fix because you just have to water them less.

Here are a few things you can do.

  • Take your plant out of its pot and look for damage to the roots. If any are brown or slimy then you have root rot. Simply cut off any damaged roots.
  • If your plant is sodden then repot your plant into dry potting soil and allow it to dry out. 
  • Check that you have a pot with good drainage. You could add lava rocks or grit to the bottom to help with drainage too
  • Check that your plant is in the right sized container. If you’re planting in a container much bigger than the plant needs, chances are its sitting in a lot of wet soil
  • Reduce your watering schedule by half for a week or two and see how they respond. If they perk right up, it's likely they were just being over-watered!
  • Try using a moisture metre for your plant so you know when it needs water.
  • If your plant is beyond repair, why not snip off a cutting and propagate it in water to make a new plant.

A good rule of thumb is to water only once a week during the growing season, but before you water always check that the top inch of soil is dry before watering.


Plants are a lot more hardy than people realise, and they can easily bounce back from problems like overwatering. Overwatering is one of those common problems that gets all the notoriety because it seems to be the most obvious and damages plants quickly.

Overwatering seems so easy to do since it's a lot more difficult to overwater a potted plant than a plant in the ground!

But despite all of this, plants can be resilient and bounce back from being over-watered just as easily as they can recover from under-watering or most other common problems.

We offer a range of easy to grow indoor plants for businesses, restaurants and cafes. We have a fully trained team who can manage all aspects of the maintenance, from watering to pruning.

We also deliver houseplants to your home across Northern Ireland and ROI and can advise on how to green your space. Call us now on 07581 191 188 or email plants@thegreeneast.co.uk.