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The Effects of Over Watering Your Plants

While most people are aware of the effects of under watering their plants, many are not aware of what happens when they over water their plants, and those effects can be just as damaging to a plant or garden as the effects of under watering. In fact, the typical reason that a houseplant dies is because it has been over watered.

While the amount of water a plant should be receiving depends largely on the type of plant it is, what the season is, what the temperature is, and the local climate, the signs of an over watered plant are generally the same. For example, gradual defoliation (where the lower leaves on the plant yellow and fall), rapid defoliation, wilting or drooping, spotted foliage, stunted plants, and fuzzy, gray mould around the flowers, leaves, or stem of the plant, are all signs of potential over watering.

Since the symptoms mentioned above can also be indicative of other problems, however, to accurately determine whether you are over watering you plants, you should carefully observe how frequently you water them. Rapid defoliation, for example, could also be caused by rapid changes in room temperature or even insufficient water. Gradual defoliation could be a result of a lack of sufficient light or fertilizer or, again, a result of under watering. Too much fertilizer or exposure to extreme cold could also cause some of the plant problems listed above. Another way to help you determine whether you are over watering your plants is to check their roots, as rotten roots are a strong indication of over watering.

As a general rule, although not always agreed upon, your garden should receive about one inch per week of water. This is only a guideline for watering your garden, though, since it is much more effective if you personally observe your garden in order to judge how much water it needs. If you do go by the one inch per week rule, remember that this amount will have to be adjusted from time to time depending on the season, climate, and needs of your plants or garden.

One of the most significant environmental factors affecting how much water your garden will need is the rate of evapotranspiration. Evapotranspiration refers to the two ways that plants lose water. Evaporation is one form of evapotranspiration and has to do with the natural loss of water into the air. Transpiration is another way that plants lose water and refers to the loss of water by the plant itself, usually through the leaves or the stem of the plant.

The best way to make sure that you are properly watering your garden is to fuse simple common sense. First, instead of trying to follow a calendar that tells you when to water, examine the soil in your garden yourself to see if it is too dry and crumbly or, in contrast, too muddy. Checking the soil will help you avoid both over watering and under watering. Second, water slowly. Watering too quickly causes water runoff. Third, water deeply so that more than just the top layer of soil gets watered. Finally, water in the morning. Watering in the heat of the day can cause too much evaporation and watering late at night in humid climates can cause disease and fungal growth.
For most people, as long as they are aware of the consequences of both under watering and over watering their garden, the problem is one that is easily avoided and rarely occurring.

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