Bottom Watering vs Top Watering: The Facts

85 to 90 percent of a plant’s weight is made up of water. Both bottom and top watering assist in delivering vital nutrients and minerals from the soil to the cells, strengthening and nourishing the plant.

Bottom Watering plant pots

Bottom watering plants keeps the soil evenly moist so that the entire root system receives water, but the drawback is that salt buildup occurs over time. Top watering promotes the growth of fungus and gnats while the water can be directed away from the soil and does not go to the complete root system. However, combining them will solve these issues.

Every seven days, garden soil needs roughly an inch of water, and the soil structure needs to be maintained in a healthy state for plants to absorb water effectively.

In a hot, humid climate, plants need two inches of water every week. Your indoor plants can prevent several issues, such as dryness and slow development, by receiving regular waterings.

Watering your indoor plants can be divided into two general categories: bottom watering and top watering. In this essay, I’ll describe how these two differ and why both approaches are appropriate.

What is Bottom Watering?

Contrary to top watering, bottom watering is a useful technique for watering indoor plants from the bottom up.

They can grow directly toward the wetness since it strengthens the roots. According to research, the potting soil’s moisture percolates to the bottom and feeds the roots.

By watering from the bottom, you can ensure that your indoor plants get the right amount of moisture without drowning their leaves. The roots will receive enough water with this technique, which is often not possible with top watering.

Water should be added to the pot’s saucer, then left to stand.

When necessary, add extra water until the soil is moist. Some homeowners place the planter inside a sizable container and half-fill the container with water.

After 10 to 15 minutes, if the soil is still damp below the surface, drain the water.

Give the soil another 10-15 minutes, or longer, if it feels dry, to absorb moisture from the air.

If the soil structure contains channels or gaps, top-watering your plants may not be providing the soil with the water it needs. However, root rot might result from leaving water in the drainage plate.

However, bottom watering is a useful technique that lets you stay clear of this issue.

You may, for instance, remove the pot off the plate and replace it as needed. You may avoid overwatering plants in this way.

See our comprehensive guide for bottom watering plants, which provides clear explanations and detailed directions based on our years of expertise.

Are you considering bottom watering trays? I was fortunate to find some sturdy, reasonably priced trays that worked nicely for all of my plants. By clicking here, you can access them.

Advantages of Bottom Watering

A practical, healthy, and smart technique called bottom watering enables seedlings to absorb moisture into the soil from the bottom up.

Research has shown that bottom watering has a number of advantages. For example, it prevents the soil from shifting delicate seedlings as they grow and enables the soil to absorb rainwater more evenly.

By regularly moistening the soil from the bottom up, bottom watering allows seedlings to receive enough water. You may avoid overwatering seedlings in this manner.

If you’re busy, it will also save you time because you won’t have to water them as regularly. Additionally, bottom watering encourages the growth of robust, healthy roots in your plants.

The roots’ downward growth toward the water supply is the cause. Avoiding water spilling on the foliage by watering your plants from the bottom up is good.

On the other hand, top watering, which frequently involves sprinkling water on the foliage, can transmit illnesses from plant to plant.

The bottom watering approach should be used if you want to preserve the most moisture at the bottom.

It enables the roots to develop more quickly and keep up a healthier root system.

Some plants can survive without keeping their leaves wet. The leaves may drop off or get yellow blotches if they receive excessive water. Bottom watering, which is a much safer technique, should be taken into consideration in such a circumstance.

Pests can flourish in an area that is top-watered. The pest’s growth is accelerated when the soil’s top surface is wet with water, which finally results in damaged leaves.

See how gnats are avoided by wetting the bottom.

Contrarily, bottom watering maintains a dry top layer, which promotes the growth of pests and promotes the health of the leaves.

I use an affordable, reliable watering can that I purchased on Amazon to water my plants, making the process enjoyable and spill-free. Clicking here will take you there.

The Disadvantages of Bottom Watering

Bottom Watering vs Top Watering: The Facts

In addition to its many advantages, bottom watering has a number of drawbacks. Bottom watering can result in the buildup of salts and minerals in the soil, which can weaken the roots and result in root burns.

Many people use tap water, which is generally rather harsh, for their indoor plants.

To avoid salt and mineral buildup, experts advise applying water from the top once every three months, especially if you use tap water.

Top watering is far more effective for fertilization than bottom watering. However, you can add fertilizer when watering the bottom, just be sure to vary the amount to avoid mineral buildup.

Your plants may suffer from the buildup of salt and minerals, which will make it difficult for them to absorb the necessary water.

All of this causes rotting, stunted development, and root tip burning. Membranes exist in plant cells, allowing water to enter while keeping bigger salts out.

Bottom watering deprives roots of adequate oxygen as it travels upward in the soil, filling the voids with water.

When plants receive too much water from bottom watering, the roots become mushy and snap off easily, killing the roots and increasing the risk of root rot.

For larger plants, bottom watering might be fairly tricky. Larger plants will take a long time to absorb enough moisture if you have some at home.

If your plants are in clay pots, the issue gets worse. You must therefore strike the ideal balance between watering your huge plants from the bottom and the top.

Larger plants can be difficult to manage and dangerous if you make a mistake because you could hurt yourself as well as the plant.

Plants that Bottom Watering Works Best with

The best method for small- and medium-sized plants is bottom watering. Heavy and tall plants should not be grown with this strategy.

For instance, African violets can grow discolored leaves if you water them from the top.

Some root-bound plants prevent the soil from absorbing adequate moisture, but bottom watering can solve this issue.

Similar to piggyback plants, watermelon peperomia does not like wet leaves, thus you can utilize the bottom watering method on them.

Plants that prefer bottom irrigation.

  • draconian tree
  • fig fiddle leaf
  • yucca, pothos
  • Cissus,
  • the spider plant
  • Ponytail

How does Bottom Watering Affect Root Development?

By serving as an interface for water and nutrient absorption, roots play a critical role in the growth and development of plants.

According to research, the plant’s roots act as the anchor that keeps it firmly planted.

Practically speaking, they transmit minerals, oxygen, and water from the soil to the leaves. Photosynthesis is triggered by the interaction of sunlight, water, and nutrients.

The goal is to give the plant energy and carbohydrates.

How does bottom watering impact the growth of roots?

Although bottom watering evenly moistens the roots, it does not get rid of the mineral and salt buildup on the soil’s surface.

When employing this method, you must keep an eye on the water absorption for at least 30 minutes. The soil may have an oxygen shortage if the extra water is not allowed to drain from it.

The roots won’t receive enough oxygen as a result, which will cause them to suffocate or rot.

However, bottom watering is a useful technique for seedlings. It protects seedlings from water streams hurting them.

Particularly for plants like African violets that don’t appreciate having moist leaves, bottom water promotes the growth of roots.

Additionally, bottom watering enables the roots to grow and remain healthier. It gives the plant’s roots adequate moisture so that they can expand toward the bottom of the pot.

How to Bottom Water Plants?

A potted plant must be placed in a sink or bathtub with a few inches of water in it as part of the crucial bottom watering technique.

The planter has drainage holes that allow the soil to absorb water for a while without becoming overly saturated.

When supplying water from the bottom, keep in mind that your planter should have at least one drainage hole.

You won’t be able to fill the planter with water if it doesn’t have a hole. The steps to bottom water your indoor plant are listed below. Continue to read!

Fill Your Container or Sink with Water 

Water should be added to the container or sink until it reaches the soil’s base. If your planter is full with soil, there won’t be any issues with the water level.

Keep the water level slightly higher than the stones if the bottom of your planter has drainage rock. The idea is to let water get to the soil.

Remember that the amount of water absorbed by each type of soil varies. It won’t be able to absorb enough water, for instance, if you use cactus soil that has more rock and perlite.

In order to give the plant the necessary moisture, you must fill the container or sink with enough water. Underwatering your plant results from not using enough water.

Place the Plant in the Water 

It is now time to put your plants inside the container once it has been filled with water. Use caution if the container or grow pot has dried dirt.

If not, the plant will begin to float in the water and create issues.

To prevent issues, your plant must sit upright in the water. Your plant can float and topple over if you place it in the container with dried dirt, making a huge mess. You must therefore exercise extreme caution in this area.

Keep the Plant in Water for 10 Minutes 

Give your plant at least 10 minutes in the container. After 10 minutes, check the moisture content of the soil.

All is okay if the soil is adequately moist from the bottom to the top.

The soil’s very top typically just becomes somewhat moist, not soaked. That is typical.

It’s time to empty the container of extra water once the soil has acquired adequate moisture. Make sure the plant is set down on a dry surface for a while so the water can drain out.

How to Bottom Water a Large Plant?

You can utilize bottom watering for a huge plant even though it works well for small to medium plants.

However, time is a crucial factor you must take into account when watering your huge plant.

Remember that your plant’s water requirements will depend on its size. A smaller pot will allow your plant to absorb water more quickly than a larger one, requiring less time to water it.

Check the moisture levels in your huge plant before watering it. To measure soil moisture, you can poke your finger into the ground or use a specialized gauge.

Make sure your finger is inserted halfway between the wall of the container and the plant’s stem. If you feel the earth is dry, push down to the second knuckle and begin watering the plant.

Use a big container to hold the planter while bottom watering a big plant. Filtered or distilled water should fill the container halfway.

Use bottled water instead of tap water because tap water has greater levels of chlorine that could harm your plants.

Depending on the needs of the plant, leave the planter in the sink or container for at least 10-15 minutes.

To determine whether enough water has been absorbed, check the moisture level again. Leave the planter in the container for at least 20 minutes if it’s still dry. The goal is to give the soil enough time to absorb water.

See our post on the ideal time for soil to remain moist following irrigation.

Bottom watering will keep the plant’s roots moist, but it won’t remove the salts and minerals that have already been deposited. Apply water to the soil’s surface to flush out collected salts and minerals to solve this issue.

How Long Does Bottom Watering take?

The type of plant, its size, the quality of the soil, and the kind of pot it is in all affect how long bottom watering should last.

The typical recommendation is to submerge the plant for 10 to 15 minutes in water that is 1 to 1.5 inches above the bottom of the pot.

After 10 minutes, check the soil; if it is still dry, extend the time to 20 minutes. You may accurately bottom-water your plant in this manner.

To avoid overwatering, don’t leave your plant for longer than the recommended 10-15 minutes.

Places to Bottom Water Plants

A particular method for maintaining soil moisture for your tiny and medium-sized plants is bottom watering.

Where to bottom water plants is a common question. You may bottom water your plants in a variety of locations, like the bathroom, bedroom, living room, etc.

For instance, you can bottom water Kimberly Queen Ferns in the bathroom.

The plant enjoys humidity and ingests contaminated air.

These plants take up airborne pollutants from paint and drywall. You can apply water from the bottom and keep snake plants where they are most required because they need less light and care.

You can maintain spider plants beside the door if you have some. When watered from the bottom, these plants thrive. Do not water them in the bathroom or any other area that has a lot of moisture and little light.

How to fertilize when bottom watering

If your soil lacks the minerals your plants need for healthy growth, you must fertilize your plants. Fertilizers are essential for nourishing the plant and promoting healthy growth and development.

How should a plant be fertilized while employing the bottom watering method? When watering your plant from the bottom, you can at least once a month add a water-soluble fertilizer to the water.

Make sure to incorporate some fertilizer. If you use inorganic fertilizer, for instance, you should add half of the suggested amount per gallon of water.

Additionally, a 20-20-20 fertilizer solution is required if you have African violets or any other indoor plant that benefits from bottom watering.

One gallon of water should include 1/4 teaspoon of the fertilizer. If the plant is grown in artificial light, the solution will function better.

I advise putting 1/8 teaspoon of the fertilizer per gallon of water if the plant receives natural light but not direct sunshine.

Some plants benefit from the opportunity to rest, particularly during the winter. Because of this, you must wait to fertilize the plant until it begins to grow again.

Final Words 

Bottom watering and top watering both have benefits and drawbacks. While some plants do better with bottom watering, others prefer top watering. Even if you utilize the bottom watering technique, make sure you follow the guidelines to prevent issues and plant damage.

What is Bottom Watering?


What plants should you water from the bottom?

It’s a terrific idea to water all the plants from the bottom if your indoor garden includes African violets, snake plants, and perhaps a few cape primrose. You don’t want to have too many plants in your tub at once, though.

Is it best to water plants from the bottom?

Contrary to top watering, bottom watering is a useful technique for watering indoor plants from the bottom up. They can grow directly toward the wetness since it strengthens the roots. According to research, the potting soil’s moisture percolates to the bottom and feeds the roots.

Can you overwater plants from the bottom?

Can you overwater by watering the bottom? Yes, you can still overwater your plant by watering from the bottom if it has been submerged in water for too long. Bottom watering is a more controlled way to water your plants, though.

Is bottom watering good for all plants?

If you’re utilizing the correct soil for your plant and want to help avoid pests on or around your plant, bottom watering is fantastic. You need still drain away the salts your fertilizer has left behind, so you shouldn’t just water your plants from the bottom.

What plants need watering from the bottom?

Particularly for plants like African violets that don’t appreciate having moist leaves, bottom water promotes the growth of roots. Additionally, bottom watering enables the roots to grow and remain healthier. It gives the plant’s roots adequate moisture so that they can expand toward the bottom of the pot.