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Why Does Over-Watering Kill Plants?

Why Does Over Watering Kill Plants?Ask The Plant Expert:

In the past, I have always started my cuttings in a glass of water, and once they got roots, tried to put them in dirt.  This sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t.

I broke a big chunk off one of my plants when trying to get it to grow the way I wanted it to. So I broke off all the stems, stuck them in some dirt, and have kept the dirt saturated with water. When I say saturated, I mean nearly liquid, there is standing water on top of the soil.

I think, after a week or so, I will start backing off on the water, and I will have a plant.

What I really don’t understand is if plants can grow as cuttings in a glass of water, why does over watering kill plants?  If it is impossible for water to kill a plant, and apparently it is, then there is some other mechanism at work when you over water. – Pete

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:


Growing plants hydroponically is a fine dance, and not all plants can be grown this way. Most plants need the proper oxygen exchange to root, and water doesn’t always allows this. Some plants, like lucky bamboo, can live in both soil or water. However, even it has issues. For example, how you start it, in water or in soil, is how it will need to stay. You can’t effectively switch it from one to the other.

The best way to vegetatively propagate plants is too make your cut, apply a rooting hormone and stick in a moist, but not soggy soil. By starting the plants in the same soil they will continue to grow in, the plant will acclimate to the soil and not suffer from transplant shock.

Once the plant has formed roots, usually within a couple weeks, you follow the normal care techniques that the mother plant requires.

Hope this information is helpful.  Please let me know if I can help with anything else.