water from below
Fri, Jul 02, 2021

How to Water Plants from the Bottom: the Best Way Not to Harm the Plants

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how to water plants from the bottom

It would seem, what’s the difference from which side the water reaches the plants – from above or from below because the main thing is that it gets to the roots? But there is a difference, and sometimes watering plants from the bottom may be better. Most people water the plants from above. Probably, this method is the most optimal. The fact is that when watering from above, the water washes away all nutrients into the lower layers of the soil, but then, when the moisture evaporates, they again enter the surface layers of the soil. Some of the mineral elements that got into the tray along with the drained water, unfortunately, are nevertheless removed. The only way to compensate for the constant loss of nutrients is by timely feeding. But if everything is clear with watering from the top, let’s find out how to bottom water plants and why sometimes it can be the best option.

What Is Bottom Watering for Pot Plants?

This is one of the watering options (it is also called reverse watering), in which the roots of plants are moistened from the bottom up. To do this, a pot with a plant is placed in a container with water or poured water into a tray and left until the soil has absorbed a sufficient amount of moisture. In this case, the water level should not reach the edge of the pot, it is quite enough if it is in the middle of the height of the pot with a flower.

How Water Plants from the Bottom?

water pot plant

The process is quite simple and does not require much effort. The first thing to do is to make sure that there is a drainage hole in the pot, otherwise, the plant will simply not be able to suck in water. For the plant to absorb water better, make sure that the soil of the plant is not too compacted. Next, all you need to do is find a suitable bowl or container that you fill with water and place the flower pot. Depending on the size of the plant, fill the container either a couple of inches (if the plant is small) or half full if in doubt that there may not be enough water. Wait the right amount of time and check the moisture content of the soil. How long is the bottom watering for plants? The answer to this question depends on the size of the plant and how dry it is. The smaller the plant, the less time it takes to absorb enough water. To assess the situation, we recommend that you test the soil after about 10 minutes, as you put it in the water.

To do this, you can stick your finger in the ground, and if you feel that the soil is still dry, you can leave the plant to stand like this for another 10 minutes and check again. Wait until the soil becomes wet, this will be a kind of indicator that it is time to drain the water. You should not keep the plant in water for longer than this time, because it will not absorb more than the flower needs, but excess water can cause the development of root rot, which will have a bad effect on the appearance of the plant. If you are worried that you can accidentally forget to drain off excess water, you can set a timer or alarm clock at a suitable time. If the soil is already moist enough, drain the bottom water. Important: do not pour water back into the plant, as this will already be an excess of moisture. If the plant has not absorbed it, then it simply does not need it.


If you most often water the plant from below, we recommend that you water them on top at least once or twice a month to wash out the accumulation of salt and minerals. This procedure is necessary if you want to grow a beautiful and healthy plant.

Bottom Watering vs Top Watering

water from below

If you are still in doubt about which watering method to choose, then now we will talk about the pros and cons of both methods.

Watering from Above

Pros: when watering from above, unwanted mineral salts are washed out, which does not happen when water gets from below. Another advantage, when watering from above, is that the water carries nutrients into the soil.

Cons: when watering, not the entire earthen lump is saturated with water, therefore, it is often necessary to irrigate in 2-3 additional approaches so that the water reaches the bottom of the pot. A fairly common problem faced by those who water plants from above is an accidental overflow since it is quite difficult to predict how much water a plant needs. In this case, simply drain off the remaining water no later than an hour later.

Watering from Below

Pros: Plants have more control over water consumption and the risk of accidentally overflowing the plant is minimal. Also, you will not accidentally water the leaves of a plant, as often happens when watering from above, and given the special sensitivity of some plants to this phenomenon, watering from below is an ideal option for them. Another pro of this method is that in this case the water is distributed more evenly and contributes to the formation of stronger roots.

Cons: does not wash out excess mineral salts, as happens when watering from above. To solve this problem, you still have to water from above at least once a month. Also, watering plants from the bottom takes more time and there is the risk of overexposing plants in water.

How Often Should You Water?

Watering abundantly is recommended to completely wet the entire potting medium. Excess water in the tray should not be left and must be drained after half an hour – an hour. Generous watering should be followed by reasonable drying of the soil. Before watering, lightly pick the soil in the pot with your finger, if it is wet, the plant does not need watering yet.

Which Plants to Water with Bottom Watering?

Most deciduous plants do not care how they are watered. The main thing is how comfortable it is for you. So, for large specimens, it is more logical to water from above, and plants with a lush crown – to water from below. Bottom watering is convenient if the plant “does not like” to wet the leaves, such capricious includes Violets, Cyclamens, Gloxinia. You can also easily apply bottom watering to seedlings as this will have a good effect on their growth. You can just as easily use bottom watering for various succulents, as watering from above may not be convenient.Thus, there is nothing complicated in water plants from the bottom. It cannot be said unequivocally which watering method is better and more efficient since it primarily depends on the individual needs of the plant. Nevertheless, it is generally accepted that with bottom watering plants, moisture is more likely to get to the roots and is better absorbed into the soil. If you decide to start watering the plants from the bottom, then remember that to flush out excess mineral salts, it is recommended to water the plant from above at least once a month.

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