Overwatering is one of the mistakes plant owners make, which can prove to be quite dangerous for your Alocasia.
Overwatering is an issue that can seem trivial initially, but it can lead to multiple diseases, fungus, molds, root rot, and ultimately death of the plant.
Let us understand how to save an overwatered Alocasia.
To save the overwatered Alocasia, you must:
- Cut down on watering your Alocasia and allow the soil to get dry.
- Shift the Alocasia to a brighter spot as it helps dry out the soil faster.
- Inspect the plant closely for pests, diseases, molds, and fungus.
- Trim off the yellow, wilted, and damaged foliage.
- Pull the Alocasia out of its pot to thoroughly examine the roots.
- If you notice any damaged roots, trim those immediately and repot your Alocasia in fresh soil.
- Closely observe the plant’s health after repotting.
- Water only when the soil is dry.
If you think you have overwatered your Alocasia, keep reading this article to understand the signs and solutions to save the overwatered plant.
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What are the threats of overwatering your Alocasia?
Overwatering might sound trivial, but it is one of the biggest reasons for the death of most houseplants.
Some plants can tolerate bad soil quality, low light conditions, neglect, and dry soil but can be killed in just a few days due to overwatering.
It is a major problem that can kill even the hardiest plants.
Overwatering is harmful to your plants in two primary ways.
1. Overwatering your Alocasia can saturate the roots.
The roots of plants have to draw oxygen from the soil, which is the gas exchange.
That is the primary way any plant can survive.
It’s the same as humans drawing oxygen from our surroundings.
But when we drown in water, we can’t take in the oxygen, so we die.
It’s the same for overwatered plants.
The plant will suffocate if you overwater it and saturate the roots with water.
2. Overwatering sets up infections in the roots and other parts.
When the roots get suffocated due to lack of oxygen, it creates a condition where disease-creating pathogens start breeding.
Overwatering causes an anaerobic environment that gives rise to pests and infection-causing germs.
The right combination is proper watering and light, well-drained soil and provides the necessary moisture, proper aeration, and nutrients to the roots.
You can soak your Alocasia for 5-10 minutes because it wouldn’t hurt the plant as long as the soil is well-drained to drain out all the excess water.
What does an overwatered Alocasia look like?
An overwatered plant looks similar to an underwatered one, so it is important to understand the difference between them because one wrong move can be disastrous for your Alocasia.
It is important to check the plant’s soil before watering to ensure that the soil has dried out completely.
Unless the soil is totally dry, you should not add more water.
Let us now discuss the signs you can look out for in an overwatered Alocasia.
- Soft and mushy foliage
- Yellowing of the leaves
- Leaves turning pale green
- Wilting leaves
- Leaf edema
- Both old and new leaves shedding
- Brown spots on leaves
- Stunted growth
- Mold and fungus on the soil, leaves, and stems
- White powdery mildew, soil gnats, and other types of pests
How to save an overwatered Alocasia plant?
The first step to save your overwatered Alocasia is to stop watering the plant and let the topsoil dry out.
Even plants that like some moisture in the soil do not enjoy soggy soil.
However, remember not to make your Alocasia thirsty by cutting down watering completely.
That will give more stress to the plant.
Let the 2 inches of the soil of your Alocasia dry out.
Insert your finger to check the moisture of the soil.
If you see soil sticking to your fingers, do not water.
If you see it does not stick, that means you can add water.
This is the trick most newbie plant owners try to understand the plant’s water requirement.
But if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can use a moisture meter.
Remember, both overwatering and underwatering can cause stress to your Alocasia.
So do not overdo any of them.
In the initial phases of an overwatered Alocasia, this is what you should follow:
- Reduce watering the plant. Let the soil dry out before putting water again.
- If you see that the soil has standing water on it, tilt the pot to let the water drain out.
- Move the Alocasia to a bright spot to let the water dry out.
- Try increasing the temperature around the Alocasia by a few degrees, so it helps in the evaporation of the water.
- Keep the plant in a well-ventilated, airy area so that there is plenty of light and air around the plant.
- If you have been using ways to increase the plant’s humidity, for example, using a humidifier, stop using it until the excess water dries out.
- Do not add fertilizer to the plant because it is already stressed.
If your Alocasia is in a more advanced stage of overwatering, here is what you can do.
- Gently pull the Alocasia out of the pot and spread the soil under a bright light to dry it out.
- Once the soil is dry, mix some fungicide to prevent any fungus growth in the soil.
- Examine the roots of the Alocasia well to check whether there is any fungus or diseases breeding.
- Trim the dead or diseased roots and foliage so that the stress reduces to some extent, which would help the plant grow faster.
- Repot the Alocasia in the dried soil and place it in a well-lit, well-ventilated area so that there is ample air and light around the soil.
- You may use a dehumidifier if you have one to reduce the amount of humidity to allow the soil to get dry.
The last and final state of the overwatered plant is root rot, where the roots start to decay due to being suffocated in the soggy soil, which gives birth to pathogens and fungus.
Once this stage has started, it isn’t easy to save your Alocasia.
However, with the correct technique, there is still a chance.
- Take your Alocasia out of the pot.
- Wash the roots gently to remove as much soil as possible.
- Observe the roots and if you notice any decaying brown and mushy roots, prune them carefully.
- Sterilize the pruners before and after use to prevent infections and diseases.
- Prune the dead or yellow leaves and branches. If there are any damaged parts in the plant, also prune them.
- Prepare a fresh soil mix. Remember to keep it light and well-draining. To improve the drainage, you can add sand or perlite to the soil. Add some charcoal as it helps in preventing infections. Also, mix some fungicide into the soil mix. You can also add some good quality compost to it.
- Choose a pot that is not more than 2 inches big than the existing pot so that the roots do not stay cramped and can expand.
- Make sure to choose a pot with drainage holes. If there are none, drill some before you plant the Alocasia in it.
- Add a layer of pebbles and rocks at the bottom to help the excess water seep out when you water the plant.
- Fill the pot with the fresh soil mix and plant the Alocasia carefully in the center of the pot.
- Water the Alocasia thoroughly till you see water coming out of the drainage holes.
- Place the plant at a brightly lit spot but not in direct sunlight as that may burn the foliage.
- Keep an eye on your Alocasia’s health. Repotting gives the plant some stress, so it might look droopy and wilted for a few days. However, it should come back to health in 3-4 days and start sprouting new foliage.
Which factors influence the water requirement of Alocasia?
No plant likes to stay saturated in water due to soggy soil, and no plant owner commits the mistake of overwatering deliberately.
But due to incorrect knowledge and lack of experience, we tend to commit the mistake of overwatering our plants.
Always remember, it is better to underwater your plants than overwater them.
Here are the few factors that influence the water requirement of the Alocasia plants.
Each plant has different water requirements.
For example, cactus and succulents like to stay dry, whereas peace lilies like moisture.
So you have to know how much water your Alocasia requires and water accordingly.
Alocasia needs medium watering, which means it does not like its soil bone dry but also not soggy.
So water only when you see the top layer of soil is dry.
This is another main contributor to the overwatering problem.
If the excess water of the plant finds a proper drainage system, it will flush out.
Some of the reasons for poor drainage are:
There are no drainage holes in the pot, due to which water finds no way to flow out.
Never plant your Alocasia in pots without drainage holes.
If you want to use decorative pots, plant your Alocasia in clay pots with holes and then insert that pot inside the decorative pots.
Poor quality soil that is too tight and heavy holds the water and excess moisture.
This is another reason behind a poor drainage system.
Loosen up your soil with sand, perlite, etc., to make it well-draining.
Watering too frequently
No plants like to stay soggy and drowned in water.
So do not water them too frequently more than they need.
Changes in temperatures can affect the water requirement of Alocasia plants.
For example, in summers, your Alocasia would be thirsty frequently than in winters when their wagering requirement would reduce drastically.
If you don’t keep this in mind, you might end up overwatering your Alocasia.
Size of the pot
The bigger the pot, the longer it will take for the soil to dry out.
A plant staying in a large pot is more likely to get overwatered.
You can keep your Alocasia in any material, but you must understand that it can affect the plant’s water requirement.
An alocasia staying in a plastic pot will require less water than an alocasia staying in a clay pot.
How to prevent overwatering your Alocasia plant?
Check the following tips to prevent overwatering your Alocasia:
- Make sure to have drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Place the pot so that the water flowing out of the holes does not accumulate under the pot. You can also do this by putting pebbles at the bottom of the pot.
- Don’t forget to empty the cache plate where the excess water accumulates.
- If you see your plant is under stress, do not fertilize it.
- Keep your Alocasia in an area with good airflow and bright light so that they are in well-aerated areas.
- Sometimes too many plants are grouped to increase the moisture in the air. That can also reduce the airflow in the spot.
- The soil of your Alocasia must be well-draining and light.
- If you notice your Alocasia is staying wet for longer, try using a dehumidifier to bring down the moisture.
How much will an overwatered Alocasia take to recover?
How much time your Alocasia would need to return to its glossy, healthy state depends on the level of damage overwatering has done to your plant.
The recovery of the plant depends on some of the factors like:
- The plant’s resilience: Some hardy plants take a shorter time to recover and come back from a stressful phase to a healthy flourishing state, but some sensitive plants cannot and can even lose their lives.
- The extent of the damage: The amount of the damage is crucial when understanding the plant’s time to recover. If you are early to detect the infection, your plant may recover early. However, if the plant stays in the soggy condition for too long, you might have to trim off the infected parts, which will take more time to recover.
- Treatment and post-care of the plant: Treating the damage with care and giving the plant the care and nurture post-treatment is important for the plant to recover.
- Species: Some plants which grow rapidly take a lesser time to recover than slow-growing plants, which takes a lot of patience.
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Alocasia is a fairly easy plant to maintain. However, if you constantly keep it soggy and drowned in water, it might not make it because this condition will affect its growth and suffocate its roots.
The moment you understand your Alocasia’s health is deteriorating, you must take action.
Cut down on watering and give the plant sufficient light and air for the moisture to evaporate. If you find it at an advanced level of overwatering, you have to take the trouble of pruning and repotting the plant if you wish to save this beauty.
Do not keep the pot of your Alocasia filled with water and the soil soggy for too long. Take proper care of this gorgeous beauty and see it flourishing in your home.
Reference: Science Direct, Propagation of Alocasia, The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Alocasia sanderiana, Alocasia micholitziana.