Bottom watering plants, otherwise known as reverse watering, can prevent the soil of your houseplants and outdoor plants from becoming too moist on the top and prevent you from watering the plant directly. This process helps the soil not lose nutrients, and the plant thrives.
There are many different questions to answer about this process. First, how do you properly bottom water a plant, and how often do you need to do it? Can this process lead to root rot, can I do it to any plant, and finally, what are the benefits of top watering vs. bottom watering?
Each of these questions is crucial to understanding what method to use to water plants. Here is a breakdown of how to bottom water plants.
What is the Proper Way to Bottom Water Plants?
To bottom water your plants, you must have a large enough pot for the plant in its container to fit in. After that, you should be able to go ahead and start by putting the plant inside a reservoir and leaving the plant in the water for a certain amount of time. As a note, the plant must be in a pot with drainage holes so it can absorb the water it is resting on.
How Much Time Does it Take for the Plant to Absorb the Water?
The amount of time depends on the size of your plant pot. The average time spent waiting is around 10 to 30 minutes for the plant to drink the water fully.
Ensure afterward to check the top of the soil to make certain it’s moist and use a pot with drainage holes to help prevent an accumulation of excess water. You can also use a moisture meter to check if the soil’s moisture level is good.
Does Reverse Watering Work with Any Types of Soil?
Reverse watering your plant can work on any type of soil available and can absorb the water through the top upwards, almost like how a candle wick is slowly melting. Also, the solution is easy if you want to use plant food on the plant. Just dump the amount needed into the water, which will help fertilize the soil.
How Often Do You Need to Bottom Water Plants?
Reverse watering your plant during the growing season should occur every three days. However, this can vary depending on the humidity, wind, and temperature. With this in mind, it is essential to measure the plant’s moisture before you go ahead and bottom water the plant again.
The main reason you want to try three to four days is that that’s how long it will take for the plant to absorb the water in the soil. It’s also how long it will take for the minerals in the soil to start moving. When the plant moves into the dormant part of the calendar, you can hold off this watering weekly or bi-weekly.
Should You Filter the Water Ahead of Time?
Using distilled water is the go-to recommendation for reverse watering since it removes minerals from the water before placing the plant on top of it.
However, if you cannot distill your water, consider boiling it to remove harmful chemicals and bacteria. According to Water Filter Authority, boiling water helps remove biological contaminants, which, if humans ingest them, can cause plant problems.
Finally, as the plant owner, you should test how your plants respond to different types of water to see what works best. For example, some plants familiar with tap water via top watering won’t have an issue with tap water bottom watering, while some plants that you need to clean the water can benefit from doing that via reverse watering.
Can Bottom Watering Cause Root Rot?
Root rot can be an issue whether you use bottom or top watering. Whether at the top or bottom of the plant, you will still get the same results if you aren’t careful with the amount of water you are using. The amount of water you use on the plant can cause damage to your plant’s roots through root rot if you are not careful.
However, if you do either method correctly without overwatering, you will not have to worry about root rot, assuming you keep the plant in a healthy environment.
An unhealthy environment, for example, would not allow the plant to receive the amount of sunlight it needs. If the plant gets water and you put it in a place where it can’t fully absorb the sunlight, root rot can occur.
Can I Bottom Water any Plant in My Home?
Most plants can benefit from bottom water, but sometimes it comes down to trial and error on what works best for your plants. For example, vines or African Violets work very well with bottom water.
One thing to be careful about with reverse watering is the minerals and salt in the tap water. Extensive contents of salt and minerals can quickly build up in specific plants if you don’t filter your water ahead of time. Therefore, the methods of bottom watering could cause issues that can negatively impact plants since they are sitting in the water for a bit.
What is the Benefit of Bottom Water vs. Top Water?
Top watering your plants can be just as beneficial as bottom watering. However, there are just as many pros to bottom watering as cons to using base watering on the plant’s soil. An example of one of the pros is that it won’t damage the leaves of the plant by overwatering them, whereas top watering can do that very quickly. Also, damaging the leaves, like leaving water on the leaves, could attract pests or create fungus, so bottom water helps eliminate that future problem.
Another benefit of bottom watering is that this method allows certain plants’ roots to spread out and grow faster. Examples of these plants are succulents and cacti. These plants must work hard to get the needed water, so putting water under the soil helps them grow their roots faster.
One final benefit of having bottom watering over top watering is not having to worry about overwatering the plant. Usually, due to the improbability that you will have too high of a water level in the saucer or bowl, it helps limit overwatering.
Conclusion: How to Bottom Water Plants
Bottom watering involves putting water under the plant’s soil to absorb it. Whether indoor or outdoor plants, this method helps the roots grow faster than they would via watering the soil’s surface.
Bottom watering needs to be done an average of three to four days, depending on the environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity. After that, you can bottom water any plant you like, except a few plants might have issues with salt and mineral buildup. Its ability to cause root rot, like any other watering method, can be an issue for the plant, but only if you overwater the plant will this be an issue.