Help! I’ve Overwatered My Philodendron (👉Signs & How to Save!)

Uh-oh. Think you have an overwatered philodendron on your hands? As a Horticulturist, I’ll be sharing my top tricks and tips to help you save a drowning philodendron…before it’s too late.

How to Tell if You’ve Overwatered your Philodendron Quick List

  • Obvious root rot
  • Stem rot at the soil line
  • Discolored leaves (namely yellowing)
  • Mushy lesions on stems or leaves
  • Mold on soil surface
  • Mushrooms in your soil

Signs Your Philodendron Has Been Overwatered

👉 One of the most common signs and symptoms that you’ve given your plant too much to drink is yellowing and sagging leaves.

yellow sagging leaves signs of an overwatered philodendron

However, there are other signs of an overwatered philodendron you should check for even if the leaves look great:

  • Root rot

Next to discolored leaves, root rot is one of the most obvious signs your plant is receiving too much water.

root rot on philodendron plants

To check if there’s root rot, remove it from its pot and check the roots at the base of the plant.

👉 If the roots are slimy, blackened, and have a foul odor, then your philodendron is experiencing root rot.

  • Stem rot at soil line

Stem rot is similar to root rot, but occurs at the base of the plant right above the soil line.

👉The stem will take on a soggy and slimy feel, and might even have a ring of white or green mold around it at the soil level.

If the rot is spreading upwards, past the surface, this is a more advanced symptom of an overwatered philodendron.

  • Mushy lesions on leaves & stems

Brown and mushy spots on your plant are never a good sign. But in this case, it’s just your plant’s way of trying to tell you it’s receiving too much H2O.

brown mushy lesions on leaf stems and leaves

👉It could be a number of things including erwinia blight disease or bacterial leaf spot.

  • Mold on soil surface

If there’s something that looks like white powder sitting on the surface of the soil, then it’s most likely mold.

mold on philodendron soil level

If the soil is always soaked, then the wet environment becomes a hotbed for mold growth.

👉 If there’s mold, it’s a sign that your plant has been sitting in water or a mushy mess for quite some time. This is caused by chronic overwatering, and even a poor soil mixture.

  • Mushrooms springing out of the soil

Like mold, mushrooms are a type of fungi, and grow in wet conditions, including on soggy soil.

mushrooms springing out of philodendron soil

Small brown mushrooms in your philodendron’s soil is a sure indicator your philodendron’s getting too much H2O.

👉 Many believe mushrooms are indicators of good soil health (and whilst that might be true in terms of nutrients), the super damp environment they need to grow is definitely not good for most plants.

Now, that you know how to tell if you’ve overwatered your philodendron, let’s learn why and how to save it!

3 Major Factors that Cause Overwatering

You might be thinking, ‘but I barely even water my philodendron, how is it overwatered?!’.

Here's the thing, even if you don’t have a heavy hand when it comes to watering, there are some factors that make overwatering possible even when a small volume of water is used.

🌱 Factor #1 Soil Aeration and Quality

When it comes to choosing a soil for your philodendron, always make sure that it’s well-draining, chunky, and airy!

Ideally, you’ll want a woody substrate that allows enough air to circulate around its root, holds just enough moisture without retaining all of it, and doesn’t compact after waterings.

Here’s my Go-to DIY philodendron potting mix:

  • 40% coco coir (or high-quality potting soil)
  • 20% perlite (drainage)
  • 10% orchid bark (philos LOVE this, acts as a hotspot for roots to attach)
  • 10% coarse pumice (drainage)
  • 10% activated charcoal (purifies soil and helps beneficial bacteria)
  • 10% worm castings (optional, purely for soil enrichment)

You can also opt for a pre-made mix to save time.

I LOVE and have had great success with Fox Farms’ Ocean Forest Mix and Noot’s Organic Coir Mix in the past.

I’ll occasionally add a little more perlite to these mixes, but that’s just me nit-picking.

Failure to give your plant a well-draining soil allows water to build up at the base and on the top level of the soil, and can lead to pesky issues such as root rot and stem rot.

🌱 Factor #2 How Much Water Is Used & How Frequently

Despite what you might have been told, the volume of water you use isn’t the problem.

When you’re watering you should thoroughly soak the plant so that water trickles out of the drainage holes (not doing so can actually lead to other issues!)

But, the frequency with which you water is a PROBLEM if done too often. 

If it's already wet and then you water again too soon, the plant is forced to sit in a mushy, wet mess.

On average, philodendrons only need watering about 1-2 times a week during warmer months/growing season.

In the winter months and non-growing season, they barely need any, if at all.

👉 Pro Tip: Before watering, conduct a soil check. Simply take your fingers and press them into the top 1-2 inches of soil.

If the surface feels evenly damp, then there’s no need to water your plant.

If the surface is dry, then go ahead and add water until the soil is evenly moist.

🌱Factor #3 Temperature, Light & Humidity

When temperatures are too low, but watering still continues as usual = overwatering

When light levels are too low, but watering still continues as usual = overwatering

When humidity levels are too low, but watering still continues as usual = overwatering

You get the picture.

In general, here are the best temperature, light & humidity ranges for philodendrons:

  • Temperature: 65-85°F / 18-29°C
  • Humidity: 60% or more
  • Light: 300FC or higher (you can measure using a light meter)

How to Save an Overwatered Philodendron

At this point, you should have a better understanding of what’s causing your plant to drown in its own soil, and threatening its health.

Now, it’s time to save your philodendron.

Follow this step-by-step guide to save your overwatered philodendron:

👉 Step 1: Stop Watering.

Your first plan of action should be to put down the watering can. Do not give your plant any more water as long as the soil is wet.

For an overwatered philodendron that isn’t experiencing mold in the soil and only has mild drooping leaves, then just cutting back on water may be enough to get your plant back on track.

That said I still recommend progressing to step 4 to repot if you’re not 100% sure what’s happening with your plant.

You can also try upping the light and temperature it’s receiving so it’ll wick away some of that excess moisture quicker:

  • 10-14 hours of bright, indirect light @ 250-350FC
  • 80%+ humidity
  • 25°C or 77°F minimum

👉 Step 2: Prune.

If your plant is already showing serious signs of overwatering, then you may have to take more steps.

If you have dead or near-dead leaves, then you’ll need to prune them e.g. yellowing, browning etc.

Using a sanitized blade, carefully cut off any dead or diseased leaves directly at the node. This will help the overall health of your plant in the long term, and can slow the spread.

👉 Step 3: Check the Roots.

Inspect the roots for root rot. Gently remove your plant from its pot and check for dark, mushy roots at the bottom of the soil.

Remember, dead roots aren't white --> they look brown or black, are mushy and can have a bad-smelling odor.

Brush away the dirt and cut off all infected parts of each root to stop the spread of the rot.

If the spread is severe, you may also need to apply a fungicide to the roots before repotting.

👉 Step 4: Repot.

Whether you have root rot or not, I always recommend repotting if you suspect an overwatered philodendron.

It’s a safe bet and can stop any issues you didn’t detect spreading even further.

If you weren’t using a well-draining soil mix before, then it’s SUPER IMPORTANT use one when you repot.

This will help the water drain properly next time you go to water—which likely won’t be for at least another week when your plant is dry again.

👉 Step 5: Change Your Watering Habits.

Now that your philodendron is on track to regain its strength, it’s time to make sure that you won’t need to repeat these steps again.

To prevent overwatering your philodendron, make sure to only water your plant when the soil is actually dry to touch.

The soil touch test is the best tool you can use to prevent overwatering.

Pro Tip: Oh, and I absolutely don't recommend relying on a water soil meter - they're pretty useless and can make you believe your plant is thirsty when really all this tool is picking up on is the salt level in your soil. 
soil moisture meter showing inaccurate reading

Doesn’t mean this is actually true! In many cases where a moisture meter has been used the plant looked terrible, and the owner couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I really wouldn’t rely on them.

Congratulations! You’ve now (hopefully!) saved your overwatered philodendron. Any comments or questions? I’d be more than happy to answer them!

🌱 Continue Your Journey of Discovery

photo of Charlotte Bailey founder of Oh So Garden

Author

Charlotte Bailey

Charlotte is a Qualified Royal Horticultural Society Horticulturist, plant conservationist, and founder of Oh So Garden. Armed with a background in Plant Science (BSc Hons, MSc) and 5 years of hands-on experience in the field, her in-depth guides are read by over 100,000 people every month.

For her work, she's been awarded the title of Yale Young Global Scholar, and been featured as a garden and houseplant expert across major networks and national publications such as Homes and Garden, Best Life, Gardeningetc, Today.com, BHG, Real Homes, and Country Living. You can find her on Linkedin.

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