Rapid or gradual defoliation, where the lower leaves of the plant turn yellow and fall; wilting, drooping, spotted or stunted plants; or grey powdery mould round the stem, leaves or flowers. These symptoms can be indicative of other problems, but the presence of rotten roots as well would be a strong indication of water-logging.
- Potentially all plants, but while drought damage occurs commonly in both outdoor and house-plants, over watering is relatively rare outdoors. It is probably the commonest cause of decline in house-plants, however, and much more serious than under watering.
About over watering
- Plants vary hugely in the amount of water they need. It will depend very much on the type of plant, the season, the temperature and the climate.
- Over watering is more damaging to the plant than under-watering. The rate of evaporation of water from the leaves, and the rate of transpiration through the stem and roots both affect the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the plant. The presence of too much water prevents the diffusion of these gases.
- The commonest symptom is the yellowing of leaves.
- Lack of oxygen to roots causes general stunting and encourages the development of rotting organisms.
Preventing further damage
- For house plants check carefully their water requirements and water accordingly. Not many flourish when standing permanently in dishes of water.
- Outdoors, check the soil condition: turning over heavy, loamy soils will aerate them and improve drainage.
- Water slowly to prevent soaking some areas and leaving others dry.
- Water in the morning when it is cool – during the day too much evaporation will occur and later in the evening humid conditions will cause fungal growth.
- Always allow the saucers of pot plants to dry fully between waterings.
- Make sure pots and plenty of drainage holes and fill bottom of pots with crocks, grit or gravel to prevent the holes becoming clogged.
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