Can I bottom water plants overnight? (Answered)

Watering cans take the back seat now, as it’s the turn for the watering tray. Yes, you heard that right! You can water your houseplants in a watering tray instead of using the water cans. 

For those wondering how and why, we have bought you a less common method of watering the plants; bottom watering. As the name indicates, you must use a watering tray or container, fill it with water and place your plants in it. The roots will start absorbing water, and the water spreads evenly throughout the soil.


You may be wondering how long we can follow this procedure? Or how long does a plant take to soak the entire water it needs? Can I bottom water my plants overnight? Here is the answer for you.

No, you cannot bottom water your plants overnight. The plants can soak the entire water for about 15 to 20 minutes. And the maximum time you can leave your plants in the watering tray is six hours. That too if you forget to take your plants out of water. Overnight bottom watering is not recommended as it may cause root rot.

Can you bottom-water all your plants?

  • Yes, you can bottom water all your plants from small to medium-sized, provided you use quality soil that absorbs water well. However, the technique doesn’t work for tall and heavy plants.
  • Some plants prefer top watering for no reason; they prefer to shower from the top. Several gardeners have given evidence supporting some plants prefer bottom watering. They planted the same species in two different pots. While one species thrived, another one died.
  • For example, African violets hate watering from the top; they develop discolored leaves in response. 
  • Similarly, for Watermelon Peperomia also, bottom watering is an effective technique because they dislike splashing water on leaves, making them wet.
  • Likewise, plants that are root bound don’t do well with top-down watering as they don’t allow the soil to absorb moisture, so they love bottom watering.
  • Moreover, bottom watering works well with seedlings.

Examples of some plants that enjoy bottom watering 

  • Spider plant
  • Ponytail
  • Pothos
  • Dragon tree
  • Calatheas
  • Cissus

Do succulents require bottom watering?

Yes, you can bottom water succulents also. It will ensure that succulents are not overwatered and the soil sucks only the required water. 

You can drain the remaining water. This technique prevents the mushy and soft leaves that often result from over watering.

How does bottom watering affect soil quality?

For bottom water to get efficiently absorbed, the soil should have proper aeration and ample space for water molecules to get soaked. Here are a few positive impacts of bottom watering on soil:

  • Bottom watering moistens the soil to the extent that minerals ions are readily available for plant absorption.
  • It facilitates stale air to push out during the process and fresh air to be drawn in.
  • Bottom battering helps prevent soil compaction.
  • The process aids in the healthy growth of microorganisms in the soil.

How can you measure soil moisture?

Soil contains air, water, minerals, nutrients, organic matter, and solutes. As a plant parent, choose well-aerated soil providing proper drainage that helps in water reaction. 

The time and location of bottom watering affect soil moisture and the duration of bottom watering.

There are various methods of measuring soil moisture. Let’s take a look at these methods:

1. Stick method

The easiest method to check soil moisture is to insert a wooden stick into your pot. Let it stand there for 5 minutes to absorb moisture. Take it out and look for the watermark or the soil sticking to it. 

It will give you insights into the pot. If the stick is wet, the soil is moist, and if the post comes out dry, you must water your plant promptly.

2. Finger method

The finger method is the most common method used to check soil moisture. Dig your fingers into the soil between the stem and the pot. 

If you don’t feel any moisture on your second knuckle, the soil is dry and needs a satisfying drink. You must bottom-water it immediately for at least 10-20 minutes.

3. Soil moisture meter

A soil moisture meter is a handy and accurate device for measuring soil moisture. These moisture meters indicate the current soil moisture and degree of soil saturation. They have humidity sensors to measure soil humidity. 

They have a scale that reads from one to ten. Inserting it into the soil gives a reading between 1-10. A higher reading indicates wet soil, and lower reading means dry soil.

Can you add fertilizers to your plants while bottom watering?

  • Yes, you can add fertilizers to your plants through bottom watering. Since bottom watering stimulates the downward movement of roots and enhances their growth, adding fertilizers can help improve plant growth.
  • While you are bottom watering, add water-soluble fertilizer to the watering tray. The fertilizer moves up to the soil along with water. Thus, allowing the nutrients from fertilizers to be available for plants.
  • However, you can add only small amounts of fertilizers once a month during the growing season of plants.
  • It is recommended to use organic fertilizers for additional benefits like these fertilizers add beneficial microorganisms such as fungus and bacteria to the soil. They help stimulate plant growth by enhancing soil quality.

Wrap up

Most plants enjoy bottom watering, so as a plant parent, be responsible for soaking your plant babies in water for 10-20 minutes as per their requirement. However, leaving them for more than 6 hours in water means you are inviting root rot.

The plant roots equally enjoy this watering technique as they get to strengthen. 

However, there is no point in leaving the plants in water for more than 6 hours; overnight is a heavy drink that might make them uncomfortable and suffocate, and the plants may die.

Thus, bottom-watering the plants twice a week is a perfect and satisfying drink for them, and the soil remains moist for three to four days.

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