Bottom watering involves soaking the lower part of a plant in water for a specific time.
When it comes to growing plants, irrigation can be one of the trickiest parts of the equation.
Watering plants from below instead of the top can save both time and effort. It ensures your plant gets the water it needs to thrive. Sub-irrigation is a similar technique.
Top Watering vs. Bottom Watering
Traditionally, most gardeners water the top of the soil as a way to irrigate their plants. It mimics the natural pattern of rain.
For the most part, it is an effective way to water and deliver nutrients down to the roots.
But, irrigating from the top-down isn’t always the best idea for water-sensitive plants.
For example, African violets, tend to discolor if droplets sit on the leaves or flower petals.
Top watering can be a bad idea for young plants or those becoming root-bound.
Watering from the top down does not soak a well-drained soil enough to support these plants.
Instead, it may run down the sides of the planter without reaching the root system.
Watering potted plants from below provides a more complete watering.
It’s a more efficient way of adding moisture to the potting soil than top watering, and it tends to take less time out of your day.
Bottom watering offers a safe and simple alternative to top watering. But, do not go tossing out the watering can yet.
It is still a good idea to water from the top down every month or so.
This helps rinse the soil around your plant’s roots and remove excess mineral buildup.
What Is Bottom Watering?
When you water your plants from the top involves pouring water directly onto the soil’s surface. Bottom watering requires a bit more advance preparation.
You need to soak the bottom of your planter in a pool of water for a given period. This allows water to soak up through the drainage holes.
When done right, watering your plants from the bottom works for both indoor and outdoor plants.
It works best on those in small to medium size pots, as it can take some time for water to soak into larger containers.
It’s best to wait a while between each watering to ensure you don’t oversaturate the soil.
Oversaturating can stress the plant. This can lead to issues such as:
- Tender leaves
- Root rot
- Increased susceptibility to infection
Checking the Soil Level
The best way to check whether your plant needs watering is to test the soil with your finger.
Push down along the wall of the pot until you reach your second knuckle. If the soil is dry, you will need to water your plant.
To water potted plants from the bottom, fill a sink or tub about halfway with room temperature filtered water. I like to use a 5-gallon bucket.
You need to make sure there’s enough water for your plant to absorb its fill. Too little, and you risk underwatering.
In general, allow your potted houseplants to sit in water between ten and twenty minutes. The soaking time to get wet depends on the soil type and plant needs.
Once the soil is moist just under the surface, allow the excess water to drain out the drainage holes of the pot.
What Types Of Plants Benefit?
Keep in mind that bottom watering is more effective for some soil types than others.
Drainage rocks, sand, and perlite can all slow water absorption, making it more difficult for your plant to soak up what it needs.
Sphagnum moss, on the other hand, are very absorbent and may take less time to moisten.
When bottom watering, always be sure to keep a close eye on your plant. It is possible to overwater soil using the bottom watering method.
Watch your plant closely as you water it. Make sure to remove it as soon as the moisture level is high enough.
The Benefits of Watering From The Bottom
Bottom watering is a technique for watering plants slowly and with control. When you water plants from the bottom, roots are better able to access the moisture they need.
It encourages roots to grow down and helps strengthen the plant.
Bottom watering distributes water evenly throughout the soil. Other irrigation methods, keep everything moist and uniform instead of soaking the roots.
You don’t have to worry as much about issues such as root rot cropping up.
Bottom watering is more environmentally friendly compared to methods such as top watering.
You use less water. If you use fertilizers, you risk less runoff soaking into the surrounding land.
When watering potted plants from the bottom, saves time and frustration.
It also gives your plants the best possible chance to thrive.