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How to Care for an Overwatered Seedling

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Overwatering seeds and seedlings is a common problem for many novice gardeners. Whether starting the seeds indoors in pots or containers or starting them outdoors, plant soil not drying out can be a symptom of overwatering that can lead to numerous other problems and eventually kill the seedlings. Thankfully, caring for an overwatered seedling can be quite easy, and it requires a minimal amount of equipment.

Overwatering Seeds and Seedlings

Plant soil not drying out can point to heavy and poorly drained soils that can become waterlogged. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, overwatering is one of the most common plant issues, and roots in overwatered soil may die due to lack of oxygen, meaning that the rest of the seedling won’t get moisture and nutrients and can die itself. Stunted growth, yellowing leaves, soaked spots and blisters are all symptoms of overwatering.

According to Michigan State University, overwatering can also leach nutrients from the soil and thus waste a good amount of time and money. It’s important to note a few key things when considering how much to water seedlings or plants in general, including the soil type and the weather if growing them outside. Some kinds of soil hold water better than others. Sand holds water less than clay, for instance, which can affect how much to water and the how well the soil will drain.

Caring for an Overwatered Seedling

Shut It Down

The first step in helping seedlings when they are overwatered is to stop watering them, whether they are overwatered outdoor plants or overwatered indoor plants. According to Cannabis Training University, this usually means providing less water when watering or watering less frequently.

Consider Watering Alternatives

If you are watering plants outside or using some kind of irrigation system indoors, consider finding water-conserving drip emitters or watering systems that can be moderated. However, it is important to note that things like overhead watering can use more water and can be a vector for fungal diseases. Further, ensure that none of the pipes or hoses are leaking to avoid putting too much water into the soil.

Dry Out the Plants

The next step in helping overwatered outdoor plants or indoor plants is to let them dry out a bit. In truly extreme cases and if the seedlings are strong enough, be prepared to transplant the seedlings into new containers with new soil. Smart fabric pots can help with the overwatering issue, but it does require more watering since the soil inside dries quicker.

Keep an Eye on It

Next, it is important to monitor the plants and the soil to see if the seedlings recover and if the soil is dry enough. Afterward, consider watering less, switching to other watering methods, using different pots or increasing drainage in whatever soil is being used. If necessary, take a pair of scissors, disinfect them with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol to avoid the spread of disease and poke more holes in the bottoms of plastic pots. Test the nutrients using a soil nutrient test kit, readily available at most garden centers. If the soil balance is not ideal for the seedlings, apply the necessary fertilizer.

Things You Will Need

Watering can, irrigation system, hose, etc.

How to Care for an Overwatered Seedling. "Water, water everywhere" is not a good scenario for a seedling. Whether you accidentally left on the hose or Mother Nature sent a downpour, overwatering seriously threatens the health of a seedling. Although adequate irrigation is essential to a young plant, overdoing …