Over Watering Plants
Date: Winter 2012-2013
Why do plants die if over watered?
This is a very broad question with a number of answers. Some plants thrive on unlimited amounts of water – consider water lilies, and a whole “bunch” of plants that grow in water. Other plants, for example cactus, thrive on very little water in the desert and do die if exposed to very much water. The health of a given type of plant depends upon water to keep the electrolyte balance and to transport nutrients, as well as other important processes. If the watering is outside of a certain range the health of the plant will be badly affected, but that is very “plant -- dependent”.
In addition to water, plant roots also need air (for oxygen), so if a plant is “water-logged,” the usual air spaces in the soil around the root hairs are taken up by water.
Anthony R. Brach, Ph.D., Harvard University Herbaria
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Update: November 2011