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How To Bottom Water Plants: Easy Steps

Botttom watering is the process where plant drinks all the water when placed over a tub.

Bottom watering allows your plants to decide how much water they require. Simply put the plant over water and let it drink as much water as it needs for 15-20 min saving it from over and under-watering.

If you want to know why netizens are going gaga over this method of watering, this article is for you. 

What is Bottom Watering?

Bottom watering, also known as reverse watering, provides water underneath instead of pouring it over the top.

It means watering the plants simply by allowing them to sit on the water, mixed with fertilizers.

Water is absorbed through the soil via capillary action without disturbing the leaves, lowering the wet leaves risk.

But for that, your indoor plant pot has to have a few drainage holes.

Picture showing difference between bottom and top watering.
Unlike top watering, bottom watering lets the plant decide the amount of water.

You can remove the plant from the water tray or container after 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, the soil’s quality and structure also determine the absorption rate.

The moisture should last about 3-4 days and sometimes even a week or two.

Having a proper watering schedule is always better for your convenience. However, we recommend you check the moisture before bottom watering your plants.

Is it Ok to Bottom Water All Plants?

Bottom watering your plants gives them the privilege to decide how little or more hydration they want.

Bottom watering should rarely affect plants as long as the soil can take and release excess water.

Further, this method has more pros than cons for some plants.

Let us see why you should go for the bottom watering technique.

  • It ensures soil saturation, preventing the risk of under-watering or drowning the plants.
  • 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.
  • It saves your carpet and furniture from the water splashes from a watering can.

With all that said, Bottom watering is still a problem for plants like bromeliads, which are sensitive to salt and mineral buildup.

When you leave your pot on the water periodically, the chance of salt and mineral getting flushed out is near to non.

Bottom-water prefering plantsTop-water prefering plants
African violetsBegonia
Snake plantsGeranium

And, if you are anything like me about forgetting things, you might want to set a timer for when to check on the plants. 

In such case, if you allow to drain the excess water out, your plants will be good. Or else you’ll end up overwatering the plant.

Pro Tip: Avoid complete switch from top watering to Bottom watering until your plant gets used to it. 

What is the Proper way to Bottom Water Plants?

Bottom watering is a more effortless technique for small-medium plants. However, carrying or lifting your tall and large plants for bottom watering is impossible.

Let’s clear the fuss all over by knowing the proper way.

1. Take a Dry Plant

Before chugging the pot in, you must know the plant’s water requirement. 

Rather than just following a schedule, it’s more sensible to have a quick soil check.

For that, use a thin stick to poke inside the soil lightly. If an inch of the stick comes out dry, it’s likely time to bathe your leafy friend.

2. Prepare the Water 

Bottom watering can simply be done in a bucket, a tray, or a container that’s deep enough to dip the plant into 1-2 inches of water.

Depending on the size of the plant and the pot’s diameter, you must adjust the water level to be suitable for easy absorption. 

In addition, more water is needed to reach the soil level if draining rocks are present in the pot.

You can also use self-watering pots like in African violets. 

Some gardeners prefer adding fertilizer to the water for its guaranteed uptake during the regular watering routine. 

Pro tip: While Bottom watering, add essential fertilizer once every month, preferably during the growing season, i.e., spring to fall.

3. Let the Plant Sip the Water

Generally, plants are placed over the water, allowing them to imbibe for about 10-20 minutes.

But the time taken for absorption depends on the size of the pot, type of soil, and type of pot used. 

Plants in a terracotta pot need a little longer to absorb water than in plastic and ceramic pots. 

Terracotta pots are porous and hold more water, taking longer for the water to reach the soil. 

Small dry plants get wobbly and tip over when placed in the water instead of standing.

Start with little water in the container and gradually add if required.

Pro tip: Lightly wet the soil by top-watering to make the plant a little heavier for standing on the container.

4. Remove and Drain Excess Water

Ideally, when the soil at the top appears moist, it depicts saturation. This is when you take the plants out. 

Let the pot sit over a dry saucer or a tray for 10-15 min for the excess water to drain.

Plants like Chilli, which enjoy moisture but fight off overwatering, are aided by Bottom watering because of optimum water use.

Further, the removal of excess water prevents the plant from having soggy and rotting roots.

Wrapping up…

With just a few items from your home, Bottom watering is a hassle-free method to achieve the perfect water level for a plant.

Besides all the benefits, Bottom watering would be a savior if you have no patience to regularly water the plant or are even about to leave your plant babies alone for some time.

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