Overwatered seedlings are susceptible to various problems like yellowing leaves, drooping foliage, stunted growth, root rot, mold, blisters, and death. You should quickly take action upon noticing these symptoms so that your seedlings can become healthy again. 

Excessive Watering Seedling Problems

If you were facing some challenges in dealing with this crisis, we are here to help you solve it before it’s too late. Read this guide to know more about how to revive the overwatered seedling.

What Causes My Seedling To Become Overwatered?

The seedling can show excessive watering symptoms if you irrigate it too frequently, use poorly draining soils, don’t take note of the changes in seasons, and the pot doesn’t have enough drainage holes. Follow all plant care requirements to avoid having to deal with any of these seedling problems.

– Watering Too Frequently

The seedling needs to be kept moist but that does not mean it requires more water. The oxygen may be available to your new plant’s roots but it can be finished quickly if the seedling is sitting in water. 

The roots cannot perform their duties properly once there is no oxygen and the seedling’s growth may be affected. Irrigating frequently can cause overwatering, which results in air pores being closed, thereby ultimately drowning the roots.

The dry potting mix has enough air pores that provide oxygen to the roots. So, watering infrequently can make plenty of oxygen available to your seedling all the time. The roots like to stay in a moist potting mix but you should water again only if the top inch is dry.

If you are adding the correct amounts of water but too often, your seedling can have droopy leaves. For example, you can also notice the cannabis autoflower seedling leaves drooping due to frequent watering. Drooping cannot lead to the death of your seedling. The underwatered seedling can also cause drooping of leaves so, you should identify the real cause of the problems before commencing treatment.

– Using a Bigger Pot

You can overwater your seedling if the container is too big. A seedling is still small so it cannot absorb much yet so the potting mix can take a long period to dry out. This combination is supportive of overwatering. 

Causes Your Seedling To Become Overwatered

You should use an appropriate container so that the seedling can grow faster. If your seedling is already in a big pot, make sure you water only a small circle around the stem, leaving the rest of the potting mix dry.

– Poorly Draining Potting Medium

As we mentioned earlier, plants thrive well when they get enough oxygen. So, if your seedling is growing in poorly draining soil, it means more water may be contained in the potting mix. The roots will be soaked and can be infected with root rot.

You should avoid using a clay-based potting mix as it can hold water for a long time. The overwatered seedling can show some signs of damping off. You can consider using a potting mix with perlite to improve drainage. Also, use a light potting medium that cannot compact quickly so that you maintain free movement of air and water.

– Using Too Small Pot

The seedling can be overwatered if you are using smaller containers as well. The plant can enjoy being in a smaller container for a while but the seedling may need more space as it grows bigger. 

So, overwatering can happen if you do not transfer your seedling to a larger pot in time and it becomes root bound. The seedling can also show some signs of wilting and nutrient deficiency.

The seedling uses up water quickly if it is growing in a small pot. This can lead to overwatering as you are tempted to water the seedling too often. Once there is more water than what the plant can absorb, overwatering can occur.

– No or Few Drainage Holes

Using a pot that has few or no drainage holes can cost the life of your seedling. Excess water won’t escape from the container, causing waterlogged conditions, even if you use well-draining mixes. The seedlings may fail to breathe and the leaves can start turning yellow.

Make sure you are using a pot with enough drainage holes to avoid overwatering. Remember to check for blocked holes so that you can open them. You can prevent blocking by placing a layer of gravel at the base of the container that you are using.

If the pot does not have holes, you can create them using a drill or nail. Be sure that the holes are small enough for the potting mix not to fall out but they should let the excess water drain out. The size of the drainage hole should also allow the flow of air in the potting mix.

– Changes in the Environmental Conditions

Your seedlings can become overwatered if you do not adhere to changes that occur in the environment. Most plants grow vigorously in summer, not to talk about the higher temperatures that are associated with this season. 

Due to these factors, the uptake of water will be high during this summer so there is a need for more frequent watering. Simply put, the seedling will be using more water in summer than in winter.

Temperatures are lower in winter, so the rate of evaporation and transpiration is reduced. You should cut back on watering during this season. Therefore, if you continue using your summer watering schedule in winter, there is likely to be an overwatered garden.  

– Using the Wrong Pot

The seedling can become overwatered if you use a plastic pot. This type of pot holds water for long stretches of time, and reduces aeration. You should water your seedling less when growing it in a plastic pot. Also, remember the plastic pot is neither breathable nor porous.

How To Save an Overwatered Seedling

You can save the overwatered seedling using different ways but there is a need to check the intensity of the damage caused before applying any interventions. This will help you to use the correct measures that will yield preferred results. 

Save an Overwatered Seedling

Some of the tips that we will discuss include allowing the potting mix to dry completely, repotting the overwatered plant, and using smart pots to rescue the seedling.

– Refrain From Watering

You should stop irrigating your seedlings once you notice that they are overwatered. It doesn’t matter whether the seedling is indoor or outdoor. Wait until the substrate dries out completely before you consider watering again.

You can poke your fingers into the potting medium to check for moisture content prior to watering. If your finger comes out dusty, it means the substrate is 100% dry. You can then resume watering but make sure the water is given in moderation. You can cut the quantity of water and frequency. You should also avoid overhead irrigation and water directly at the base of your seedling.

– Allow the Seedling to Air Out

You should improve on aeration and drainage. You can put soil additives like perlite, vermiculite, sand, and peat moss to make your potting mix less dense, thereby allowing air to circulate. 

You can also loosen the soil by poking holes in the potting mix using chopsticks, skewers, or toothpicks. Please note that some roots may break in the process but it’s worth it, considering the negative effects that come with leaving the soil compacted.

You can also improve aeration by adding organic matter to the compacted potting soil. The compost has healthy microorganisms that help in keeping the soil aerated and also encourage the flow of water. 

The movements and activity of the microorganisms as they break down the organic matter are the ones that aid the creation of air spaces in the potting mix. This helps water to flow through the soil much more easily.

– Water Your Seedlings During the Day

Do not water at night so that the plant may not sit in water for a long time. The temperatures are usually cool at night so the water may not evaporate. This, together with possible high humidity levels will cause seedlings to become soaked with and in water. The seedling may then have overwatered leaves that are prone to fungal infection.

If you are growing cannabis plants, you should water seedlings in the morning. This will give excess moisture ample time to evaporate.

– Transplant the Seedling

The overwatered plants can be rescued by repotting. Seedlings are not supposed to be repotted until they are ready for transplanting but in this case, transferring them is the best option. You should use a new potting mix and container. You can use the old pot if you clean it using a bleach solution and allow it to dry out.

Cannabis plant seedlings also thrive well in a well-draining potting mix that can retain moisture for a long time, in addition to allowing for aeration. It is vital to use the recommended potting mix, like the seedling soil mix, when repotting your plant. If you see some of the leaves curling, prune them off, together with those that are discolored.

Gently uproot your seedling using a garden trowel and wash the plant to remove the old potting mix. This can help to remove the fungus in the clinging soil so that it cannot be transferred to the fresh potting mix. Remember to use a clay pot that is porous to improve airflow. Check for root rot so that you can trim the infected roots and apply fungicides before planting your seedling in a new pot.

– Revise Your Watering Schedules

Under normal circumstances, you are recommended to water your seeds and seedlings daily to keep them moist. However, if you notice that they are overwatered, be sure to introduce a new schedule. We recommend that you add a bit less water until the overwatered seeds and seedlings are fully recovered.

– Do Not Allow the Containers To Sit in the Water

You should empty the plant saucer 30 minutes after watering so that your seedling will not sit in water for a prolonged period. You can remove the water by absorbing it using a sponge.

Best Care Tips for Saving Your Plant


Can Overwatered Seedlings survive?

Overwatered seedlings may struggle to survive due to root rot and oxygen deprivation caused by excess moisture in the soil.

What are the common signs of an Overwatered Seedling?

Common signs of overwatered seedlings include yellowing leaves, wilting, stunted growth, mold growth, and a foul odor.

Will waterlogged soil cause seedlings to overwater?

Waterlogged soil can lead to overwatering of seedlings as it hampers drainage, causing roots to be constantly saturated, increasing the risk of overwatering.


You now have important tips on how to water seedlings to avoid having to deal with the effects of waterlogged conditions. If the plant is already overwatered, you are in the right position to rescue your plant. Below is a summary of the main ideas that will come in handy in saving your seedlings.

  • Seedlings can experience overwatering if you irrigate them too often, use containers with poor drainage, and pot with a water-holding substrate.
  • Changes in weather conditions can also result in overwatering if you do not irrigate accordingly.
  • Consider repotting the overwatered seedlings in a new pot with fresh substrate.

Prevention is key! You should avoid overwatering your seedling in order to keep it healthy. If you fail, this guide is there to help you out so that you can restore life to your seedlings.

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