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Genuine Tips To Bottom Water Plants [All-In-One Guide]

Is your plant severely dehydrated? Try to bottom water your plant, allowing the soil to soak up all the moisture without any worries about overwatering. 

To bottom water plants, fill a tray with 1-2 inches of tap or distillate water and place your plant on it for 15-20 minutes. Check the moisture of the top 1-2 inches of the soil every 10 minutes until it reaches 7-8, indicating saturated soil.

Bottom watering is relevant for all plants, but time, size, container width and depth, and material type affect the process.

What is Bottom Watering?

Bottom or reverse watering is a technique that works by hydrating the plant from underneath instead of the top without wetting the leaves.

Additionally, reverse watering plants offers even moisturization around their roots and saturates the soil without the fret of under or overwatering.
Image represents bottom watering multiple plants
You can economically bottom water multiple plants in a single tray.

Water enters inside the pot and slowly rises, spreading uniformly via capillary action around the potting soil.

Having said that, there are a few considerable tips before reverse watering plants.

  • Ensure the pot is exclusively made up of terracotta, which holds comparatively more moisture.
  • You can also use plastic or ceramic planters with basal perforations.
  • If the container lacks a drainage outlet, drill holes at the bottom.
  • Before bottom watering, ensure the soil is completely dry, with moisture readings around 3-4.
  • To properly bottom water, ensure the potting soil is chunky and fluffy.
  • Consider the size of the pot and plant to estimate the use of water on the tray.

How Long to Bottom Water Plants?

You can remove the plant from the water tray or container after 15-20 minutes.

Although successful, heavy or clayey soils can take longer than well-draining soil to soak the water fully.

However, the soil’s quality and structure also determine the absorption rate.

Hence, it’s ideal to continuously monitor the top 1-2 inches of the soil every 10 minutes to see if the plant has enough water.

In any case, the moisture should last for 3-4 days and sometimes even 1-2 weeks.

How Often to Bottom Water Plants?

Alternate between regular or top-watering routines for reverse-watering plants.

If you normally use reverse watering to hydrate your plants, top-water every 1-6 weeks to flush out the excessive salts.

Regular or top-watering causes the fertilizer salts to accumulate in the soil, leading to fertilizer burns.

Image illustrates the advantages of bottom watering plant
By reverse watering the plant, you can supply a good portion of water to the plant roots, saving it from dehydration and underwatering issues.

Bottom Watering Plants Benefits

Bottom-watering has more pros than cons for plants.

  • It ensures soil saturation, preventing the plants from under-watering or drowning.
  • The entire soil receives consistent water gradually with no dry spots.
  • Reduces the risk of wet leaves, especially for sensitive plants.
  • Roots orient downwards about the water source, making them stronger.
  • Eliminates the water pooling issue that may lead to rot in many succulents.

With all that said, bottom watering is still a problem for salt-sensitive plants like Bromeliads.

Learn from the table about the correct watering method for different plants.

Plants preferring Bottom-WateringPlants preferring Top-Watering
African VioletsBegonia
Snake PlantsGeranium

How to Bottom Water Plants?

Bottom watering is a more effortless technique for small-medium plants.

Shifting your tall and large plants for bottom watering is impossible.

So, look at these tips to bottom water your plants properly.

  • Using a moisture meter, inspect the moisture from the top 1-2 inches of the soil.
  • Employ a bucket, a tray, or a deep container to immerse the bottom of the pot into 1-2 inches of water.
  • Adjust the water level in the bucket according to the plant and pot size.
  • Use self-watering pots if you are on vacation and lack time to tend your plants.
  • Keep the plants in terracotta pots longer than plastic or ceramic planters, as they take time to absorb moisture.
Image illustrating difference between bottom and top watering
Unlike top watering, bottom watering lets the plant decide the amount of water to drink.
  • Start with little water in the container and gradually add if required.
  • Lightly wet the soil by top-watering to make the plant a little heavier for standing on the container.
  • If the moisture readings are around 7-8, stop bottom watering and drench the excess water to prevent fungal growth.
  • To bottom water large plants in wide and deep pots, use more water in the basal tray, and refill until the soil absorbs all of it, turning dark.
  • For bottom watering seedlings or small plants growing in narrow and shallow pots.

Can you Over Water by Bottom Watering?

Bottom watering permits only the required water to soak within the soil layers.

You must monitor the time and remove the plant from the tray once the soil is moist.

Keeping the plant for long will create soggy soil conditions, like overwatering.

Moreover, the plant roots will suffocate, starting from the roots, and deprive of oxygen, causing root rot.

From Editorial Team


While reverse watering plants ensure that the bottom drainage holes are submerged completely inside the water.

Doing so will allow the soil to uptake all the water and hydrate the roots, preventing under and overwatering conditions.

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