Learn how to identify overwatered houseplants with these 7 key signs. From yellow leaves to mushy stems, find out what to look for and how to save your plants. Plus, discover preventative measures to avoid overwatering and keep your houseplants thriving.


Are you a proud plant parent who loves caring for houseplants? If so, you know that proper watering is essential to keep your plants healthy and thriving. However, it’s easy to overwater your plants, which can lead to serious problems. In this article, we will explore how to identify overwatered houseplants and provide practical tips for troubleshooting. Whether you’re new to plant parenting or a seasoned green thumb, this guide will help you ensure your plants receive the right amount of water for optimal growth and health.

Signs of Overwatering

Overwatering can cause significant damage to houseplants, but the good news is that there are specific signs you can look out for to identify if your plants are being overwatered. By recognizing these signs early on, you can take prompt action to save your plants and prevent further damage. Here are some common signs of overwatering:

  1. Edema: Blisters form on the undersides of the plant leaves, which can eventually burst and leave corky scars. This is common in annual geraniums, peperomias, and ivies.

  2. Yellow Leaves: The leaves of the plant turn yellow, starting with the lowest and oldest leaves, which eventually fall off. This is common in glossy plants like anthurium, gardenia, and jasmine.

  3. Brown Leaves: If the leaves are turning brown, it can be a sign of both overwatering and underwatering. If the browning appears only on the tips or edges of the leaves, it is likely a symptom of underwatering, low humidity, or overfertilization. However, if the plant is rotting, the leaves may also turn brown and drop off. This can be seen in species like azalea and begonia.

  4. Mushy Stems: Overwatered plants may have mushy stems, indicating root rot that spreads upward from the hidden roots to the visible shoots. This is common in species with closely spaced stems, such as devil’s ivy, goldfish plant, and wandering sailor.

  5. Mold in Soil: If mold appears on the surface of the soil, it can indicate rotting of the plant’s crown, corm, or bulbous base. This is common in species like cyclamen, strawberry begonia, and ponytail palm. Watering the soil beside the plant instead of directly into the center foliage can help prevent this.

  6. Fungus Gnats: Overwatering can attract fungus gnats, which lay eggs in constantly moist potting mix. The larvae of these pests may feast on the plant’s smallest roots. Allowing the soil to dry out before watering can help discourage these bugs.

  7. Wilting Plant: A plant that wilts even when its potting mix is wet may indicate root rot, which hinders the plant’s ability to draw up water through its roots. This is common in species like aluminum plant, purple passion, and Swedish ivy.

Identifying these signs early on is crucial to saving your overwatered plants and preventing further damage.

Preventing Overwatering

Now that you know how to identify overwatered houseplants, let’s explore some practical tips for preventing overwatering in the first place. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your plants receive the appropriate amount of water and thrive in their environment.

  1. Know Your Plant’s Watering Needs: Different plants have varying watering requirements. Take the time to research and understand the specific needs of each plant in your collection. Some plants prefer to dry out between waterings, while others thrive in consistently moist soil.

  2. Check Soil Moisture: Instead of watering your plants on a fixed schedule, feel the surface of the soil to determine if it’s time to water. For moisture-loving plants, water when the top inch or two of soil feels dry. For plants that prefer drier conditions, like cacti and succulents, wait until the soil is dry at least a couple of inches down.

  3. Use Well-Draining Soil and Pots: Ensure that your plants are potted in well-draining soil. This allows excess water to escape easily, preventing waterlogged conditions. Additionally, choose pots with drainage holes to allow water to flow freely out of the container.

  4. Avoid Excessive Watering: It’s tempting to show your plants some love by watering them frequently, but excess water can be detrimental. Remember that it’s better to underwater than to overwater. Always err on the side of caution and wait for the soil to dry out before watering again.

  5. Provide Adequate Air Circulation: Good air circulation around your plants helps prevent excess moisture from lingering on the leaves and soil surface. Ensure that your plants are not overcrowded and have enough space for air to flow freely.

By following these preventative measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of overwatering your houseplants and maintain their health and vitality.

Saving Overwatered Plants

If you’ve identified that your houseplants are overwatered, don’t panic! There are steps you can take to save them and promote their recovery. Here’s what you can do to help your overwatered plants bounce back:

  1. Remove the Plant from its Pot: Gently remove the plant from its pot and place it on a layer of newspaper or absorbent material to help extract excess moisture.

  2. Trim Damaged Roots: Inspect the plant’s roots and trim away any mushy or rotting roots using sterilized shears or scissors. This encourages new root growth and prevents the spread of root rot.

  3. Repot in Fresh Soil and Clean Container: Repot the plant in fresh, well-draining soil and a clean container. Ensure that the new pot has proper drainage holes to prevent overwatering in the future.

  4. Adjust Watering Habits: After repotting, adjust your watering habits to prevent overwatering. Be mindful of the plant’s specific watering requirements and allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

  5. Monitor Plant Health: Keep a close eye on your overwatered plants as they recover. Observe the growth, leaf color, and overall health of the plant. Adjust your care routine as needed to ensure continued improvement.

Remember that saving an overwatered plant takes time and patience. With proper care and attention, your plants have a good chance of recovering and thriving in their environment.


Overwatering is a common mistake made by plant enthusiasts, but it doesn’t have to result in the demise of your beloved houseplants. By learning to identify the signs of overwatering and taking proactive measures to prevent and address it, you can provide the perfect balance of hydration for your plants’ optimal health. Trust your instincts, observe your plants closely, and adjust your watering habits accordingly. With a little knowledge and care, you’ll have vibrant and thriving houseplants that bring beauty and joy to your home.


  1. Bob Vila. (n.d.). 7 Signs You’re Overwatering Your Plants—and How to Fix It. BobVila. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.bobvila.com/articles/signs-of-overwatering-plants/“>https://www.bobvila.com/articles/signs-of-overwatering-plants/](https://www.bobvila.com/articles/signs-of-overwatering-plants/)
  2. Indoor Plants for Beginners. (n.d.). 9 Signs You’re Overwatering Your Houseplants. Indoor Plants for Beginners. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.indoorplantsforbeginners.com/9-signs-youre-overwatering-your-houseplants/“>https://www.indoorplantsforbeginners.com/9-signs-youre-overwatering-your-houseplants/](https://www.indoorplantsforbeginners.com/9-signs-youre-overwatering-your-houseplants/)
  3. Family Handyman. (n.d.). 10 Signs You’re Overwatering Your Plants. Family Handyman. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.familyhandyman.com/article/signs-youre-overwatering-your-plants/“>https://www.familyhandyman.com/article/signs-youre-overwatering-your-plants/](https://www.familyhandyman.com/article/signs-youre-overwatering-your-plants/)
  4. Mindbodygreen. (n.d.). 5 Signs Of An Overwatered Plant + How To Save It Before It’s Too Late. mindbodygreen. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/signs-of-an-overwatered-plant“>https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/signs-of-an-overwatered-plant](https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/signs-of-an-overwatered-plant)
  5. Ourhouseplants.com. (n.d.). Are you overwatering your houseplants? Ourhouseplants.com. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.ourhouseplants.com/questions/am-I-overwatering-my-houseplants“>https://www.ourhouseplants.com/questions/am-I-overwatering-my-houseplants](https://www.ourhouseplants.com/questions/am-I-overwatering-my-houseplants)
  6. RD.com. (n.d.). 12 Plant Watering Tips: How Often and How Much to Water Houseplants. Reader’s Digest. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.rd.com/article/plant-watering/“>https://www.rd.com/article/plant-watering/](https://www.rd.com/article/plant-watering/)
  7. Apartment Therapy. (n.d.). 8 Foolproof Ways to Avoid Overwatering Your Plants. Apartment Therapy. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-not-overwater-your-plants-36631643“>https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-not-overwater-your-plants-36631643](https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-not-overwater-your-plants-36631643)
  8. The Spruce. (n.d.). How to Rescue Overwatered Tomato Plants. The Spruce. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-rescue-overwatered-tomato-plants-4580537“>https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-rescue-overwatered-tomato-plants-4580537](https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-rescue-overwatered-tomato-plants-4580537)
  9. Plantophiles. (n.d.). How To Fix Overwatered Plants (5 Critical Steps). Plantophiles. Retrieved from <a href=”https://plantophiles.com/plant-care/how-to-fix-overwatered-plants/“>https://plantophiles.com/plant-care/how-to-fix-overwatered-plants/](https://plantophiles.com/plant-care/how-to-fix-overwatered-plants/)
  10. Homes & Gardens. (n.d.). How do I fix an overwatered plant? The warning signs – and ways to combat excessive moisture. Homes & Gardens. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.homesandgardens.com/gardens/how-do-i-fix-an-overwatered-plant“>https://www.homesandgardens.com/gardens/how-do-i-fix-an-overwatered-plant](https://www.homesandgardens.com/gardens/how-do-i-fix-an-overwatered-plant)
  11. TomsGuide. (n.d.). 5 tips to save an overwatered plant. Tom’s Guide. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.tomsguide.com/how-to/5-tips-to-save-an-overwatered-plant“>https://www.tomsguide.com/how-to/5-tips-to-save-an-overwatered-plant](https://www.tomsguide.com/how-to/5-tips-to-save-an-overwatered-plant)
  12. Gardening Mentor. (n.d.). 10 Easy Ways To Tell Overwatering Vs Underwatering (With Solutions). Gardening Mentor. Retrieved from <a href=”https://gardeningmentor.com/how-to-tell-the-difference-between-overwatering-and-underwatering/“>https://gardeningmentor.com/how-to-tell-the-difference-between-overwatering-and-underwatering/](https://gardeningmentor.com/how-to-tell-the-difference-between-overwatering-and-underwatering/)
  13. Eco Family Life. (n.d.). How to Tell if a Plant is Overwatered or Underwatered | 7 Signs and Solutions. Eco Family Life. Retrieved from <a href=”https://ecofamilylife.com/garden/how-to-tell-if-a-plant-is-overwatered-or-underwatered/“>https://ecofamilylife.com/garden/how-to-tell-if-a-plant-is-overwatered-or-underwatered/](https://ecofamilylife.com/garden/how-to-tell-if-a-plant-is-overwatered-or-underwatered/)
  14. Swan Hose. (n.d.). How to Revive an Overwatered Houseplant — Actions to Take. Swan Hose. Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.swanhose.com/blogs/general-watering/how-to-revive-an-overwatered-houseplant-a-comprehensive-guide“>https://www.swanhose.com/blogs/general-watering/how-to-revive-an-overwatered-houseplant-a-comprehensive-guide](https://www.swanhose.com/blogs/general-watering/how-to-revive-an-overwatered-houseplant-a-comprehensive-guide)
  15. Best Plant Friend. (n.d.). Underwatered vs Overwatered Houseplants – Signs and How to Save Them. Best Plant Friend. Retrieved from <a href=”https://bestplantfriend.com/blogs/blogs/underwatered-vs-overwatered-houseplants-signs-and-how-to-save-them“>https://bestplantfriend.com/blogs/blogs/underwatered-vs-overwatered-houseplants-signs-and-how-to-save-them](https://bestplantfriend.com/blogs/blogs/underwatered-vs-overwatered-houseplants-signs-and-how-to-save-them)