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How to Avoid Overwatering Your Indoor Plants, According to a Plant Shop Owner

Don't stick to a strict watering schedule.

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Photography: Instagram/freshspacesmnl

While it may look like a simple task, watering plants is actually quite tricky—in fact, underwatering and overwatering are two of the most common reasons why some indoor plants don't survive. The latter is especially damaging because it causes the roots to rot.

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Plants can "drown" when given too much water. That's because roots need oxygen, so they can't sit in stagnant water. One way to tell if you're overwatering your plant is to check the leaves: Are they turning yellow? Are they wilting? Do the leaves appear rotten? Can you see some spots or blisters? 

To help you avoid overwatering your plants, Chari Pang, owner of plant store Fresh Spaces MNL, shared some tried-and-tested plant care tips! Check out them out: 

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1. Use a well-draining soil. 

To avoid drowning your plants, proper drainage is key. But aside from choosing a pot with drainage holes, it's also important to "use a well-draining potting medium," says Chari. The plantita also recommends "mixing pumice or perlite into the generally available potting mixes to increase the drainage, as well as give more oxygen to the roots. More oxygen in the roots means faster growth." 

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2. Don't stick to a strict watering schedule...

...otherwise, you run the risk of giving them too much (or too little) water. "Don’t rely on regular schedules—say once a week—since we have different [environments]," explains the plant store owner. Sometimes, "your room is more humid, or [it gets] more light [so it's] faster for the water in the soil to evaporate." This bring us to the next tip...

3. Always check the soil before watering! 

"The general rule is, top inch [of the soil] should feel dry to touch before watering again," shares Chari. "You really need to get your fingers dirty!" Make it a habit to check your plant's soil moisture at least once a week to see if it needs a drink. 

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Chari also notes, however, that some desert plants like cacti and succulents prefer their soil to be dry. (Check out this guide on how to care for succulents)

Bonus: Water your plants properly

When you're scared of overwatering your houseplant, you might tempted to pour little water into the soil. However, doing so won't also help your plant thrive as not enough water may reach the roots. According to Chari, it's still best to "water your plants thoroughly [and evenly], making sure all the soil in the pot gets wet." When you've watered it deep enough, water should run out of the pot's drainage hole. 

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Over time, you won't have to worry so much about overwatering your plants, according to the plantita. "Plants are actually pretty resilient. If their roots are established, and are acclimatized well enough to their new environment, you’ll have better chance of keeping them alive, even if you tend to overwater." 

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She adds: "With the high demand and fast movement of plants nowadays, transplant shock is a common occurrence. This happens when the plant’s root system is not yet established enough and then subjected to different kinds of stresses: Moving to a new environment or a new container and yes, overwatering!" 

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