This method of watering broadleaf ornamental plants is more effective from below because the leaves remain dry and the water is more even than from above.
In this article, we will discuss the reasons why watering broadleaf houseplants is more effective from below and how to do it successfully.
Watering underground plants is the process of slowly soaking the soil from below using capillary action.
However, it takes longer to water each plant and there is a risk of overwatering.
Most of us start our gardening journey by watering plants from above. This works well for many plants but this method has its limitations.
Watering from top to bottom is indiscriminate and can lead to uneven soil moisture.
Your plant may appear to be well watered, but you may be surprised if you take the plant apart and examine the soil outside.
It is common to find wet streaks with gaps in the drier mixture.
Bottom watering can be a healthy alternative as it keeps the foliage dry.
Wet leaves promote pathogenic rot, fungus, or other disease. Also, water droplets can cause indelible spotting and discoloration on the leaves of some plants.
What is Watering from Below?
Watering from below involves placing a shallow reservoir of water under the plant and allowing the moisture to seep upward into the soil.
This gravity-defying trick relies on the magic of the soil’s natural wicking action to gradually submerge the entire medium.
This method works on loose, compacted soil. Best for small or medium sized plants that can be moved easily.
How to Water Planting Plants from Below
– Find a basin or other reservoir large enough to hold your plants.
– Place the plant inside and fill the container with about an inch of water.
– Leave the plant in the reservoir long enough for the soil to get completely wet. Depending on the permeability of the soil and the size of the plant pot and drainage capacity, the medium should be fully moistened within 10 to 30 minutes.
– There is no strict time you can leave the plants in the water. Half an hour is okay, but it’s not safe to leave it for hours on end.
You can feel the topsoil to make sure it’s moist before removing it from the water.
When Should You Water the Plants?
Base watering is usually a good way to water, but sometimes it is specifically needed to:
1. Specific Plant Species
Bottom watering is great for plants like Peace Lilies that thrive in moist soil. These plants can consume water quickly, making it difficult to track soil moisture.
Also, its lush leaves can develop spotting or mildew problems when watered from above.
Some plants, including the Orchid, African Violet, or even the hardy Oxalis, are prone to spotting if water lands on their leaves.
Bottom watering makes it easy to keep the leaves dry.
Many epiphytes and other plants that require a very loose mix also do better with bottom watering.
Because their mix dries and dries quickly and doesn’t hold much water, they appreciate a soak that ensures their roots have enough water to drink.
Caudex plants and many succulents have fat stems that retain moisture. These don’t need frequent watering, but they like a good, brief puddle once they’re ready.
Bottom watering is perfect for such a plant.
2. Dry Land
Bottom watering is definitely the way to go is when the soil has completely dried out.
Dry soils tend to be ‘hydrophobic’ and completely water repellent. If the soil is too dry, the water added to the top will only flow downward without wetting it.
Note: Any time the pot is draining too quickly, it’s a sign that the soil has dried out and is resisting moisture – or that it has too much aerating material.
A good bottom-up soak will completely hydrate even the driest soil.
3. Root Bound Plants
As plant roots fill their pots and feed on the soil, the mixture loses its ability to absorb and retain moisture.
Plants need to be watered more often, and you can’t be sure that moisture has reached the entire root ball.
Watering from below penetrates all the roots.
If the plant is very root-bound, there will be less capillary action of the soil to moisten the upper roots, so the reservoir fill is higher.
Also leave the rootbound plants submerged for a few extra minutes, as there won’t be much water stuck in the meager soil.***