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How to Revive an Overwatered/Underwatered Philodendron?

When a philodendron wilts and withers, people tend to blame it on their lack of a green thumb and despair. However, with a little bit of probing and prodding, the underlying problem becomes apparent, and more often than not, it is a problem that can easily be fixed. If your beloved philodendrons look like they are on their last legs, it is very likely that it could be a watering problem that can easily be cured to give the plant a new lease on life.

To revive an overwatered philodendron, dry the roots, prune out any damaged roots before repotting it in a fresh pot with a good drainage system and lastly, introduce a regulated watering schedule. Underwatered philodendrons need to be thoroughly watered every time the topsoil dries out. 

When a philodendron suffers from overwatering or underwatering, it is easy to simply adjust the watering techniques to help save the plants. Here’s what you need to know to save an overwatered or an underwatered philodendron.                                           

How to Know if Your Philodendron Has Been Overwatered or Underwatered?

Often the signs of overwatering look similar to that of underwatering. There are, however, some nuanced differences. Also, the remedy for each scenario is different.

When a philodendron is overwatered, the leaves undergo some discoloration. They begin to turn pale green or yellow. Overwatering hinders the plant from carrying out its normal photosynthesis process due to the excess water in its leaves. As a result, the philodendron is not able to get enough nourishment.

Some other symptoms of overwatering include stunted growth, brown spots, and the formation of mold and algae at the base of the stem and on top of the soil.  

The most apparent symptom that an underwatered philodendron gives is the presence of dry soil. The plant also begins to wilt. Slowed growth and curled tips that turn crisp brown over time are a few more symptoms of an underwatered philodendron. 

How to Revive an Overwatered Philodendron

In trying to take good care of the philodendrons, one may tend to overwater the philodendrons. This leads to a host of problems for the plant, especially in the case of potted plants with a poor drainage system. But there are many ways in which you can save your overwatered plants before it’s too late.

Stop Watering the Philodendron

In the case of an overwatered philodendron, this is the most obvious first step. By not drowning the plant in more water, you are giving the plant a chance to use up the excess water in the pot first. 

Philodendrons prefer soil that is consistently and lightly moist. Wait for the topsoil to dry up before you resume watering the philodendron again.

Allow the Roots to Dry Out

Philodendron roots do not like to sit in excess water. Due to overwatering, the roots may begin to rot. Gently tap the sides of the philodendron. This will help loosen the soil in the pot and will help the plant to ease out of the pot. 

You can remove the soil that is clinging to the roots by gently breaking the soil with your fingers. The soil will fall away from the roots. Keeping the roots out in the air for a while will help dry up the roots quickly.

Prune Any Damaged Roots to Stop the Rot

Once you take the plant out of the pot, check for any damages to the roots. If the roots look moldy, it is a sign of root rot. Cut off the affected parts of the root.

Healthy roots are mostly white in color and firm. Rotting roots will be soft and mushy and look brown or black in color. Some roots may also give off a foul odor. These are all signs of root decay and must be separated from the rest of the plant to help minimize the spread of the rot growth.   

Consider Re-Potting the Philodendron Plant

If the soil looks moldy or has turned green from algae, it could mean that your philodendron needs repotting. Use new potting soil along with bark pieces to create air pockets in the soil. This will allow the roots to breathe.

It is even more beneficial if the pot is porous as it will provide a way out for excess water. Terracotta Planter Pots have clean, minimalist design that is both functional as well as aesthetic. 

Learn the basics of repotting houseplants in this beginner’s guide video: 

Introduce a Good Drainage System

Philodendrons do not like to live in wet soil. Make holes at the bottom of the planter, and add a drainage layer composed of mulch, small rocks and pebbles, and pine barks to create an efficient drainage system for the plant.

How to Revive an Underwatered Philodendron

Underwatered philodendrons can be easily revived by introducing a regulated water schedule, and ensuring that the plant gets enough water so that it reaches the roots in the soil.

Check if the Top Soil Has Dried Up

The topsoil (in a pot) is approximately the top 2 inches (5.08 cm) of the soil. If the topsoil is dry to touch, it is an indication that the philodendron needs to be watered. Ensure that the plant gets enough water so that the topsoil is no longer dry, but slightly moist instead.

Move the Philodendron to Shade

Philodendrons do not do exceedingly well in direct sunlight. If the plant remains underwatered in such conditions, its roots will no longer be able to supply enough water to the leaves, causing the philodendron to head towards an accelerated death spiral. If your plant is underwatered and placed near a bright window, move it away from the window to a partially shaded area.

Have a Regulated Watering Schedule

Water the philodendron pot to ensure that the potting soil is slightly moist at all times. If you have already re-potted your plant, pour water over the soil to moisten it. Pouring water directly over the soil ensures that the water goes to the roots.

It is also advisable to water the philodendrons in the morning as opposed to watering it at night. Daytime watering will help dry out any excess water from the pot.

During winters, the watering sessions can be a bit more spaced out as the growth is relatively slower. Allow the top part of the potting soil to dry out completely before watering.

If you tend to underwater the philodendrons despite your best efforts, it might be best to incorporate a written watering schedule until it becomes a habit.

Find a Solution to Water the Philodendrons When You Are Going Away on Vacation

Plants do need a certain amount of attention at all times, and philodendrons are no exception. During vacations, it does become a bit of an ordeal to water the philodendrons regularly.  

If you are lucky, a neighbor will agree to come by your house to water the plants. But, if that is not possible, you need to be creative and find ways to water your philodendrons while you are away. 

You can consider getting the POTEY Terracotta Plant Watering Stakes that allows deep root watering through timed and slow water seepage, thereby promoting healthy root growth.

Final Thoughts

It is important to water the philodendrons properly right from the start and make sure they have adequate drainage. This will help avoid most of the problems leading to root rot, yellowed and wilted leaves, and curled tips and improve the philodendrons continue to thrive.