Watering: top or bottom? -part 2: top watering and conclusion

Watering: top or bottom? -part 2: top watering and conclusion

If you really like to regularly water your plants to the point of being part mermaid, then we definitely recommend you water from the top.


Top watering: Advantages


  • This method can assist in flushing out excessive salts and minerals
  • Generally accepted to lessen risk of overwatering
  • Overall more convienient


Top watering : Disadvantages


  • Can encourage the presence of fungus and gnats
  • Parts of the soil can become hydrophobic and actually end up repelling water
  • The water can be channeled out of the soil and therfore not being able to reach the entire root structure effectively
  • If your plant is becoming root bound, moisture might not soak into the soil and may run down the sides of the planter instead
  • potential issue with soil compactation
  • Top watering can cause damage to the leaves of your plants
  • Water marks are likely if the leaves are not blotted dry





It really isn’t that difficult or rocket science once you consider environmental factors, and the individual plant needs. The type of soil used as a potting medium affects watering, as does light exposure, temperature, and humidity.  Just as many environmental factors change with the seasons, so do the water needs of plants.  Plants in a warm room, particularly near a source of forced-air heat, will dry out sooner than those without these conditions.  Hanging plants often dry out more quickly. If the air is dry, placing plants on a tray of pebbles kept moist will help them retain moisture longer.  Using a room humidifier nearby helps too.


Consider the weather too, and try not to water plants by windows when it is very cloudy outside, or forecast to be cloudy and rainy.  They won’t get sun to help dry them out, and so may stay too wet for longer.


The two main aspects of watering to be considered are frequency of watering and amount of water applied. The watering frequency is simply how much time passes between waterings. The frequency will vary from season to season.


We recommend you avoid watering on a fixed schedule such as every week or every five days as this does not necessarily give plants water when they need it. In very few places in the world does it rain on a fixed schedule. In fact, watering on a fixed schedule may mean plants are overwatered at one time of the year but under-watered at other times. It is a good idea to get on a fixed schedule to check them for water, once you know your plants and how fast they dry out. Plants in small pots dry out more quickly than plants in large pots.


With few exceptions, plants should be watered when the soil feels dry to the touch. This means the frequency of watering will vary with the rate at which the soil dries out.  Especially if you’re new to growing houseplants, poke your finger an inch into the soil to make sure it is dry below the surface too.


Bottom line: always make sure your plant actually needs watering, and do so by lifting the pot (the weight will tell you if it’s dry or moist. The best advice we can offer here at plantlovers is irrispective of the method you choose to adopt that if in doubt about whether to water or not, don’t.  It is better for plants and your sansity to be a bit dry, than too wet.


Previous Article Next Article

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published