An overwatered Philodendron is characterized by yellow leaves, wilting, drooping, stunted growth, and brown leaves. The leaves also develop some soggy spots that may be yellow, white, or brown.
However, the main cause of concern is root rot which causes the potting soil to produce a foul odor.
As soon as you diagnose your philodendrons of overwatering, follow this detailed care guide to save them.
- What Are the Causes of Philodendron Overwatering?
- Can Overwatered Philodendron Plants Come Back to Life?
- – Situation Assessment
- – Reduce Watering and Improve Circulation
- – Remove the Overwatered Philodendron From Its Pot
- – Get Rid of Bad Roots
- – Remove the Damaged, Infected, and Excess Foliage
- – Create a Light Potting Mix and Well-draining Pot
- – Replant the Trimmed Philodendron
- – Place the Recovering Philodendron in Ideal Conditions
What Are the Causes of Philodendron Overwatering?
The causes of philodendron overwatering are several factors that include frequent watering, pot size, poor pot drainage, environmental conditions, heavy potting soils, and poor use of pebble trays. philodendrons are tropical plants, and they are accustomed to receiving frequent deep watering.
– Environmental Conditions
The environmental conditions present in your homes play a pivotal role in determining the Philodendron watering frequency that is required. If you are not attentive to changes in temperature, sunlight, and humidity, you end up overwatering your plants.
During the growing season, philodendrons need frequent irrigation and adequate nutrition to develop fully. Also, evapotranspiration is high during spring and summer because the plant and soil will be losing moisture due to high temperatures as well as sunlight.
philodendrons stunt their growth in the cold season which makes irrigation their main enemy. They need watering only when the potting soil feels dry. Despite the plant growing in soil and container that drains efficiently, it takes much longer for excess water to be done with due to reduced evaporation and transpiration.
If you stick to the watering schedule that you were using during spring and summer during cooler seasons, overwatering results. This problem is also common when you move your philodendrons from one place to another. The watering intensity that is implemented in drier air conditions should be different from that of high-humidity places.
High moisture saturation in the atmosphere causes the plant to close its leaf pores which consequently cuts back water loss through transpiration. Evaporation also declines and if you keep applying water to the soil without considering the available humidity levels, the soil remains constantly saturated.
– Heavy Potting Soils
Heavy soils have fine particles that compact once water is applied to them. If you are using a soil mix that has a high composition of clay, the risk of overwatering your plants comes into play. Fine soil denies water smooth passage through the potting soil. This means that it takes more time to have the soil dry enough for watering.
The airways are continuously blocked by water which drastically reduces air circulation within the growing medium. As a result of limited access to fresh air, the areas underneath the potting soil become favorable for fungus manifestation. This means that you need to remove the fungus manifestation from the soil to avoid further damage.
If you do not rectify this situation promptly, the fungi will start feeding on the root mass. The Philodendron plant will respond by wilting, fading, and yellowing its leaves. If you see the Philodendron turning yellow and wilting, the roots’ efficiency will be reduced due to damage caused by fungi. Only a few healthy ones will be left burdened by the massive foliage.
– Frequent Watering
Applying more water than necessary to the soil is also a reason why overwatering takes place. Under normal circumstances, you should water philodendrons once every seven days during spring and summer. Massive development occurs to this plant during this period but it can do well with just a single watering a week.
Please do not make the mistake of thinking that frequently irrigating your philodendrons will make them grow faster. Constant water-logging within the soil is the most harmful situation you would not want a Philodendron’s roots to be exposed to. This situation happens when you irrigate the soil successively without giving it time to dry out between waterings. Once the Philodendron’s roots are drowned, they start to rot due to lack of oxygen.
An oxygen-starved Philodendron leaves wilt and starts turning yellow. Damaged roots cannot support the well-being of a plant as they fail to supply the foliage with adequate supplements from the soil.
Regardless of the soil being rich in nutrients and moisture, the plant cannot enjoy them and rather remains malnourished. If you procrastinate in saving the plant, the same fungi that are destroying the roots will also cause stem rot.
– Pot Drainage and Size
The drainage qualities and pot size matter a lot in the successful cultivation of Philodendron plants. A pot that has both good drainage and pot size maintains the perfect water loss rate.
If the container does not drain well, you will need more time to have it dried up enough for watering. As highlighted earlier, philodendrons cannot tolerate sitting in soggy potting soils for a long time as they start to rot.
When watering philodendrons, you should thoroughly soak the soil until water starts dripping from the base of the pot. In this case, you have to apply more water in large pots as compared to small pots.
The plant will absorb more water than it can and saturate its leaves leading to cell bursts. It is best to use a pot that is proportionate to the size of the pot to avoid over-exposing the plant to excessive wetness.
If you notice the Philodendron turning yellow despite the pot draining fast, check the size of the container. Also, if you notice mushy leaves on the Philodendron plant, they are probably being continuously saturated with water. To avoid these issues, water Philodendron plants when the first two inches of the growing medium are completely dried out.
– Poor Use of Pebble Trays
philodendrons are tropical native plants and they are accustomed to the wild where they get high humidity and airflow. This means that, if they are brought indoors, humidity needs to be kept high to suit their natural demands.
However, if you decide to use pebble trays, and you let the base of the container get in touch with the water, overwatering will haunt the plant. Also, do not let any of the root strands reach the tray containing water.
If you do notice that either the roots or base of the pot is in contact with the water in the pebble tray system, root and stem rot will surprisingly visit you. Also, the Philodendron leaves will develop brown spots and droop in no time.
You should place the pot right above the pebble tray making sure no root strands protrude out of the pot at any given time. As much as you would not want the pot to touch the catch pan containing drained water, avoid the same with pebble trays.
If you are continuously having problems with protruding roots, that is the cue for repotting the plant into a large container. When a single root strand gets infected with rot-causing fungi, it rapidly infects the rest of them thereby endangering the entire Philodendron plant.
Can Overwatered Philodendron Plants Come Back to Life?
Overwatered philodendrons can come back to life, especially when the problem has been detected in its early stages. Keeping in mind that damaged leaves cannot regain their shape and structure, they should be trimmed off.
However, in the early stages, you just need to adjust certain Philodendron plant care needs.
– Situation Assessment
As soon as you suspect your Philodendron of overwatering, carefully inspect the stems, leaves, potting soil, and container for any anomalies. There are several actions that should be taken in saving an overwatered plant for instance reducing the watering frequency, amending the potting soil, improving the drainage facilities of the pot, pruning off dying Philodendron foliage, root trimming, and repotting. However, each of the aforementioned steps should be implemented according to the extent of damage incurred on the plant.
You should disinfect your hands first before handling the plant to avoid passing pathogens to the already struggling foliage. Considering that an overwatered plant’s foliage becomes home to pests and diseases, carefully check for such within the soil as well.
In certain instances, the populations of these intruders may still be too low and cannot be seen. You should therefore put an overwatered Philodendron in an isolated place even before you notice signs of pest or disease inversion.
– Reduce Watering and Improve Circulation
Reducing the watering frequency and improving air circulation around the foliage as well as within the potting soil works better in saving a mildly affected Philodendron. Most overwatering incidents occur toward and during winter where philodendrons become dormant.
These plants will not be taking up as much water as they used to during spring and summer due to reduced development. During the growing period, water is not only lost from the soil through drainage, but excessive uptake by the plant as well as high evaporation rates also play a significant part.
During the cold period, the soil may still be draining perfectly but water loss through evaporation and transpiration is suppressed. Also, the plant only needs little moisture to stay alive due to reduced growth or development. You should therefore reduce the irrigation frequency once you notice the plant’s leaf tips turning brown and the entire plant looking sickly.
As the growing medium loses excess water, carefully make use of suitable pathogen-free tools to loosen soil particles to improve air circulation without harming the roots.
– Remove the Overwatered Philodendron From Its Pot
Try to be as gentle as you can when removing an overwatered plant from its pot to avoid disturbing the roots further. Wash the Philodendron’s roots with running water making sure that all soil particles are removed.
Cleaning the roots helps you to clearly distinguish between the bad and healthy roots. Considering that you are suspecting root rot as the culprit, no grains of the contaminated soil should remain attached to the plant.
Rot-causing fungi like the Clitocybe tabescens, Fusarium, and Armillaria mellea can survive in plant debris and soil for more than a year. This means that, if you do not get rid of contaminated soil in its entirety, rot recurrence remains imminent.
Place the overwatered plant in a place that has no access to direct sunlight with its roots well spread out. Also, make sure that the place has good air circulation so that the roots dry out quickly.
– Get Rid of Bad Roots
Get a pair of scissors or pruning shears and dip them in ethanol or isopropyl alcohol to eliminate all pathogens. You can also use rubbing alcohol which contains about 70 percent isopropyl alcohol.
Now, look for any dark or mushy roots and neatly cut them off. If only a few roots are bad, you are very lucky because the plant has a very significant chance of bouncing back quickly.
Kindly note that you should not leave any rot-affected roots because they will spread the infection to the remaining healthy ones. If you find all roots dark and mushy, then that is, you will have to consider cutting off the remaining parts of the overwatered Philodendron for propagation or discarding the whole plant.
Properly dispose of the infected root pieces and disinfect the pruning tools soon after using them. You should also wash your hands with a disinfectant soap before handling other plants.
Treat the remaining roots with a fungicide to eliminate the chances of recurrence. If not treated, fungi can still manifest and become a menace to the plant in the future.
– Remove the Damaged, Infected, and Excess Foliage
Once you are done with root trimming, also prune all damaged and discolored foliage. If the plant had already been attacked by pests, this is the right time to wipe them out. If you do not remove damaged leaves and stems, the plant will focus most of its time trying to repair them rather than producing new healthy growth.
Also, remember to downsize the Philodendron’s foliage to avoid straining the remaining roots. You may still not see any signs of change as the roots fail to support foliage that is larger than their capacity.
The leaves will keep wilting and fading because water and nutrient absorption will not be proportionate to the massive foliage. Therefore, we advise you to prune down the excess foliage and leave only the topmost healthy leaves.
Make neat incisions so that the plant heals quickly. Inflicting deep wounds on the Philodendron makes it take long to recover and exposes it to bacterial and fungal attacks.
– Create a Light Potting Mix and Well-draining Pot
Philodendron’s natural habitats have rich soils that are made up of leaf litter, decaying organic matter, decaying wood, and animal droppings. You should try to replicate this soil type for the overwatered aroid. In short, the soil should be moist and well-draining at the same time.
The best Philodendron growing medium you can find is composed of potting soil, peat moss, orchid bark, and perlite. You should consider adding a small percentage of compost to the potting mix. Using potting soil alone without adding the aforementioned components, will not be as well-draining as your Philodendron would appreciate.
Terracotta pots should do justice to a recovering plant as their porous walls increase the drainage of excess moisture from the soil. Also, make sure that the base of the pot has drainage holes large enough to support quick drainage. Please, do not reuse a fungi-contaminated pot to avoid re-infecting the struggling aroid.
– Replant the Trimmed Philodendron
Fill three-quarters of the pot with a well-draining and airy mix and use your hand to create a hole that is big enough to accommodate the roots. Place the Philodendron plant and use some leftover soil to cover the roots.
Firmly press down the potting mix to support the plant making sure it stands upright. Ensure that all the leaves are clearly above the surface of the soil. You should not water the repotted plant after every seven to ten days. If the plant shows signs of wilt or dryness, mist them to keep high humidity around them. When watering, make sure the potting mix is well-soaked up.
You should stop watering when you notice water draining out through the base of the pot. Watering should only be done when the soil’s first two inches are completely dry. One cost-effective moisture testing method is the finger test where you should dip two fingers into the growing medium. If the soil feels damp, do not water.
– Place the Recovering Philodendron in Ideal Conditions
Position the repotted plant on a spot that has a plentiful supply of bright indirect light. Philodendron plants cannot withstand hot direct sunlight as their leaves easily get scorched.
All the same, placing them in a dark place makes them vulnerable to fungal growth. If you do not have bright, indirect light available especially in winter, grow lights are good replacements.
Avoid exposing a recovering Philodendron to cold or hot drafts. Also, you should not position it in a place that is crowded with other plants to allow free air circulation. Maintain the humidity levels between 60 to 70 percent. You can make use of a humidifier if the environment is drier.
Try to maintain day temperatures between 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 29 degrees Celsius) and night temperatures of 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 21 degrees Celsius). Philodendron plant fertilizer requirements should also be considered once new growth shows up. When the plant is established, you can now apply nitrogen fertilizers or at a 3-1-2 ratio.
Kindly note that it is much easier to deal with an underwatered Philodendron compared to the overwatered one.
Let us take a brief tour of the main highlights of this guide.
- Philodendron overwatering is a result of poor drainage, too frequent watering, environmental changes, heavy soils, and poor pebble tray management.
- Overwatered philodendrons can be saved but, you should assess the situation at hand first before taking any action.
- Being susceptible to fungal and pests infestations, you should quickly consider isolating the plant to avoid infecting nearby plants.
- Repotting is a vital step you should take when dealing with a severely affected Philodendron. Please avoid using the previous or contaminated growing medium when repotting.
philodendrons hate staying in wet situations for prolonged periods and this is only avoided by using well-draining soils and pots. Make use of this Philodendron recovery article and enjoy the amazing return of the tropical vibe in your homes!
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