Bottom Watering Succulents: Prevent Overwatering Succulents


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During their growing seasons, succulents do need water regularly. However, when they go into a dormant state, they hardly need water to function properly. 

Bottom watering succulents ensures that the plant is not overwatered by providing the ideal amount of water to the soil. The soil takes up only the water that it can hold, after which, it drains freely leaving the soil adequately moist. Bottom watering succulents prevents soft and mushy leaves associated with overwatering.

This article explains why it is better to bottom water succulents rather than top watering or misting and the benefits associated with the practice when done the right way.

Why Do Succulents Love Bottom Watering?

Bottom watering Succulents

Bottom Watering is a technique that makes sure people give just the right amount of water to keep their succulents evergreen and healthy. 

What is Bottom Watering?

Bottom watering is done by placing the plant in a tray of water at approximately 1 to 2 inches high. The water is then absorbed into the soil from the bottom up after which it is allowed to drain freely leaving the soil moist and aerated.

Bottom watering :

  • Stimulates healthy root growth
  • Prevents pests such as gnats
  • Prevents overwatering
  • Allows fresh air into the soil
Bottom watering plants infographic

In this method, you place your succulent pot in a water-filled container to soak up an adequate amount of water which helps their roots to absorb enough water to function normally. 

See our our complete guide for bottom watering plants which gives easy to understand details with step by step instructions.

One of the prime reasons why small and medium-sized succulents love to enjoy bottom watering is because it keeps them safe from overwatering. 

Subsequent reasons are given below why succulents are fond of bottom watering: 

Efficiency

Bottom watering is an efficient way to quench the thirst for succulents without overwatering or under watering them. 

It is the best possible way by which you can re-moisturize plant soil without overwatering.

Keep The Soil Uniform

Bottom watering also keeps the soil uniform. Succulents grow ideally in Cactus soil, loamy soil, gravel, volcanic rock, or so forth. 

Interestingly, Bottom watering works well with all these soil types. 

Different types of soil play an important role in the growth of plants. Bottom watering in well-drained soil helps the plant to stay healthy.

The important element in well-drained soil is o² which is an important constituent of plant growth. 

When soil is well-drained, plants get enough o² according to their needs and thus stay healthy. 

Supply of Enough Moisture

Water succulent is the best source to provide enough moisture to the entire plant. This is not possible with top watering. 

Because watering the plant from the top just wet the upper surface sometimes and the required moisture is not delivered to plant roots. 

When you bottom water a plant, the roots evenly absorb water with the nutrients in it. 

Get Rid of Pests

Bottom watering keeps the surface moist for a short period, allowing your succulents’ leaves to flourish by decreasing the conditions that houseplant pests love.

Pests like gnats are attracted to moist soil. So, if you can prevent your potting soil or growing medium from being moist for long periods, it can reduce the growth of gnats around your succulents. 

With bottom watering, the topsoil usually stays dry, especially the 1 to 2 inches of growing medium surface where fungus gnats larvae thrive best. 

Encourage Root Development

When you water a plant from the bottom, the roots get enough water along with nutrients, minerals including sodium, potassium, sulfur, phosphorus, etc. 

As the entire soil mass is exposed to water through the wicking action of the water from the bottom to the top, roots tend to grow more healthy as they receive only the required amount of water that they need. 

There is no avenue for water to crowd the air spaces to stifle the roots of oxygen which can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases.

How Can You Make Well-Drained Soil For Bottom Watering?

Well-draining soil is best for bottom watering. The gentle, coarser texture of sand helps water to evenly distribute throughout the area and thus water is absorbed more frequently by plants. 

Well, preparing well-drained soil for bottom watering is not a hard job. Well-drained soil includes loam (clay 20% and silt 40%), and sandy soil. 

You can prepare well-drained soil at home by just following the points given below.

  • Dig the soil using a shovel and try to lose the soil as much as possible.
  • Add compost material like clay and sandy soil. 
  • The deeper you plow the soil, the better you will get drained soil.

Well-drained soil helps in the infiltration process (movement of water into the soil) and in the process of percolation (downward movement of water within the soil). 

Succulent Plants That Like Bottom Watering?

Succulent plants stay happy and green if we water them from the bottom instead of watering them from the top. 

Down below, we have compiled a list of succulent plants that thrive best with bottom water:

  • Cissus
  • Jade plant
  • snake plant
  • Pothos
  • Ponytail
  • Panda plant
  • African violets
  • Piggyback plants

Watermelon pepperoni loves bottom watering as well. 

Piggyback Plants

Succulents like Piggyback plants thrive best with bottom watering. One of the chief reasons for that is they don’t like wet leaves like Watermelon pepperoni. 

To avoid wet leaves they must be bottom watered.

African violet

This beautiful pulpy plant prefers bottom watering to avoid discolored leaves.

Snake plant

This plant grows in loamy, sandy soil and prefers neutral pH. They like bottom watering because water is thoroughly distributed in their entire root system through this soil.

Cissus

Grows in evenly moist soil. Bottom watering helps it to get the essential moisture that is needed for its proper growth and functioning. 

How To Bottom Water Succulent?

Bottom watering a succulent is a straightforward method that can be done with little effort at home. You simply ought to follow these few steps given below:

Step 1:  

Prepare a tray or a water basin. Fill up almost 1 inch of water in it. Make sure that no rocks are present within the pot as it can prevent bottom watering from working. 

However, If any are present, then equal the level of water and soil. So that the roots can easily get in contact with water.

Step 2: 

Place your succulent pot straight in the water. And keep in mind that the pot should have one or two drainage holes from which it can absorb enough water.

Keep the plant for 15-20 minutes. Until the soil is moist up to the top. 

Step 3: 

After observing the moisture of the soil, take the plant out of the water and place it in an empty container to drain out excess water to avoid root rot.

Step 4: 

Before placing it back in its original place, make sure it’s clean and dry. You have bottom watered the plant successfully. Now you can take back the plant at its place.

How Long To Bottom Water Succulent

Usually, 15-20 minutes are required to bottom water a plant. 

In very severe conditions, the plant can take more time depending upon the soil drainage quality and if any rock is present at the bottom. It may take a few more minutes.

To be extra sure, observe the topsoil of your succulents and when you find the top of the soil moist to the touch then you can remove your succulent from the watering tray. 

How Often is The Bottom Water Succulent?

It totally depends on your succulent conditions that how often and long it should be bottom watered. 

A succulent should be bottom watered once every two weeks. It’s not as bad to underwater the plant as to overwater it. 

Observe it and when you find your succulent having wrinkled or shriveled leaves, immediately put it in a water container to bottom water it. 

Wrinkled or shriveled leaves are the most common symptoms of underwatering or dehydration in plants. 

If the leaves seem strong and plump it means that your succulent has enough water and you don’t need to overwater it.

See our detailed article on how often to bottom water plants.

The Takeaway:

Although taking care of succulents isn’t difficult and they only need a little attention to thrive.

However, the most common problems succulents struggle with are underwatering and overwatering.  Luckily, both these problems can be avoided by bottom watering. 

Bottom watering allows the water to evenly diffuse throughout your succulents and hence it is a great method to avoid over-watering.

JayLea

JayLea has a passion for plants and has been gardening since 2015. He has valuable knowledge about gardening and houseplant care and can answer everyday practical questions that every plant owner has.

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