How To Fix An Overwatered Pilea
Updated: Jun 29
Overwatering is the number one killer of Pilea plants. If this has happened to you, don’t panic! Here's a simple tutorial for bringing an overwatered Pilea back to life.
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Plant's roots absorb more than just water. They also take in oxygen and nutrients. When you overwater your Pilea, you are actually drowning the roots by surrounding them with so much water that they can't absorb oxygen or nutrients anymore.
Not all overwatered plants can be saved, but the sooner you identify the issue, the better your chances.
Understand Your Plant Conditions
The first step in saving your overwatered Pilea is to determine how badly the plant it has been affected.
1) Examine The Plant
Yellowing, drooping, or prematurely falling leaves are among the first signs of overwatering. If your Pilea is showing some yellow leaves, but they have not yet started to wilt, you can save it by adjusting the watering frequency. If wilting has begun to occur, you will need to work harder to save your Pilea.
Overly wet soil can cause a fungus called root rot. If left untreated, root rot can kill your plant in 7-10 days. If your Pilea is suffering from root rot, you may see dark spots with a mushy texture on the stem of your plant; mold or algae on the surface of the soil may also appear.
2) Check The Bottom Of The Pot
If your pot doesn't have any drainage holes, your Pilea is likely suffering from overwatering. Without a drainage hole, the excess water sits in the pot, drowning the roots. Get a new, well-drained pot to save your Pilea.
3) Take A Look At The Roots
Gently pull out the plant from its pot and examine the roots. If they look brown or mushy and have an unpleasant scent, you will need to prune them away.
If your Pilea has been severely affected, adjusting the watering frequency won't be enough: you will need an extra effort to save your plant.
1) Keep The Plant In The Shade
Move your Pilea to a darker spot: the plant will dry more slowly, but it will be less stressed.
2) Clean Leaves And Roots
Firstly, remove any dying, yellow, or dead leaves.
Then, use clean, sharp clippers to remove any dead or damaged roots, so only the healthy, white ones remain.
If you end up removing a large number of roots, snip off a similar proportion of the top growth – it may seem extreme, but will put less strain on an already sick Pilea. A plant with a compromised root system won’t be able to provide enough water to support the upper leaves.
Then wrap the remaining plant’s roots in paper towels to absorb moisture and drain all excess water.
3) Repot Your Pilea
Remove the old soil, and either discard the pot or soak it in a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water for at least 30 minutes to kill any disease-causing bacteria. Rinse and dry it thoroughly, then fill a third of it with some fresh potting mix. Usually, any all-purpose or tropical soil mixture will work fine. If you prefer, you can make your own mixture at home: use coco peat fiber or peat moss, and then mix the soil with a small portion of perlite (one part perlite to nine parts soil), which is excellent for soil aeration and drainage.
Unwrap the plant’s roots, and place the entire plant in the container. Add new fresh soil that contains 1 percent hydrogen peroxide, which will help to oxygenate the plant.
Press down on the soil around the plant to compact it into the container and make sure no space remains in the pot.
4) Use Chamomile Tea
Water your Pilea with lukewarm chamomile tea – its natural antifungal and antibacterial chemicals will help avoid further infections – and place it away from direct sunshine.
After this, water sparingly and only when the soil had dried out.
How To Maintain Your Pilea Healthy
There is never a guarantee that your Pilea can bounce back from overwatering.
If your plant is going to survive, you will see results within a week or so. After your Pilea has recovered, you will need to pay extra attention to your watering and feeding habits.
1) Water only when the surface of the soil is dry.
Water when the top inch of the soil is dry. Test the surface each time before you water to be sure. You can consider buying a soil moisture gauge, that will let you know the exact moisture levels of your Pilea soil.
2) Don’t fertilize until you see new growth on the plant again.
The root system needs to be healthy to absorb new nutrients. Wait until your plant has fully recovered to resume your feeding schedule.
It's important to water your Pilea properly from the start and to make sure to provide good drainage. If you tend to overwater your plants despite your best efforts, it might be best to avoid plants that are more prone to problems from too much water – Pilea is one of them.
Always use a pot with bottom drainage holes so excess moisture can drain from the soil. If the pot has a drip tray, always empty it after watering, so the plant doesn't sit in water.