It works really well.
Bottom watering your plants has some good benefits. But can you add fertilizer as well?
You can bottom water with fertilizer, but you should use water-soluble fertilizer or liquid fertilizer. These will dissolve well into the water and provide nutrients to the roots. Avoid using a fertilizer that will clump or sink to the bottom without mixing well.
In this post, I’ll help you understand the benefits of bottom watering with fertilizer. I’ll also give you steps on how you can use the fertilizer while bottom watering.
Let’s take a look.
What are the benefits of bottom water feeding with fertilizer?
Bottom Watering is a method of watering plants that allows them to absorb as much water as they need without over or under watering the plant. This helps to more evenly water the plant and rehydrate a plant that has been dehydrated.
It is called bottom watering because the plants receive their water from the bottom of the pot where the roots are located, rather than the top layer of soil (the traditional watering method).
Many plant enthusiasts have begun to bottom water all plants they can. This is due to all the benefits that come from this upside practice of watering house plants.
- Easier to water and fertilize many plants at once.
- Allows soil to be evenly watered and get the fertilizer
- Avoid splashing water on leaves that can cause fungal disease.
- It helps to improve potting soil that has turned hydrophobic.
- Strengthens the plant’s roots.
What are the drawbacks of bottom water feeding with fertilizer?
There are some drawbacks you need to be aware of when using bottom watering to feed fertilizer.
- The fertilizer could build up in the soil and won’t flush out. You need to use top watering to drain the excess minerals and salts out of the potting soil.
- It takes longer and more work to water and fertilize the potting soil from the bottom. You may need to lift the pot and place it in the sink or bathtub. It’s faster to add fertilizer to the potting soil or directly spray it on the foliage.
- You need to get specific fertilizer that is water-soluble or use liquid fertilizer. For top watering, any top of fertilizer will work.
How to bottom water with fertilizer
You will need to choose a water-soluble fertilizer or liquid fertilizer with the correct strength for your houseplant.
Plants, especially small houseplants, do not need much fertilizer to grow healthy and strong. It is better to choose a weaker fertilizer or only mix in half of the amount into the water at a time. This will prevent the plant from taking in too much fertilizer than can easily kill the plant.
Mix a small amount of the fertilizer into the water and allow the plant to soak up some of the fertilized water. You will then want to either flush some of the excess fertilizer out of the plant by watering it with fresh water, or you need to allow the plant to drain and then finish watering with fresh water.
How often should you bottom water with fertilizer?
This would depend on the type of plant you’re growing, so follow the instructions for each plant. But as a general rule, I prefer to add fertilizer once every month for plants. If they are resource-hungry plants like vegetables, I add fertilizer every 15 days.
The best time to add fertilizer is when the plant is in the growing season. It needs the boost of nutrients to grow well. I don’t recommend adding fertilizer if the plant is going dormant as winter approaches.
Can you use bottom water feed with fertilizer for all plants?
You can bottom water feed with fertilizer for most plants. The roots will absorb the moisture along with the nutrients similar to watering from the top.
Some plants could face issues if there is a build-up of salt and minerals due to regular bottom watering. You will need to flush out these excess elements by watering from the top every few weeks.
Bottom watering will help plants that don’t prefer moist conditions on their foliage. African violet is an example of such a plant.
How do you bottom water feed plants?
When it is time to water the houseplants, submerge the bottom half of the plant pot in a container of fresh water. The plant pot must have drainage holes on the bottom for the water to soak into the soil and the plant’s roots. The plant will then have the ability to soak up as much water as it needs.
Begin by filling a large container with water. If you are only watering one or two plants, a small bowl or dish may work fine. If you have a slight obsession with plants and need to water many different plants at once, a tip found on a forum discussing bottomed watering plants suggested using the bathroom tub. Regardless of the container being used, fill it so that when the plants are sitting in it, it is between 1/4 and 1/2 the height of the plant pot.
Stick the plant in the water and allow the soil to begin absorbing the water. You will want to check on the plant every 5-10 minutes to see if it is done being watered. Once the water has evenly moistened all of the plant’s soil, it is done and ready to be removed. For most houseplants in good soil that absorb water nicely, this should take around 20 minutes.
Once the plant is removed from the water, allow it to drain any excess water that may have been trapped in the pot.
What about stiff soil that does not absorb water easily?
When purchasing a small houseplant from the store, most plants’ soil is not the highest quality soil. Anyone who has purchased a cheap houseplant from a store or nursery knows this to be true. While not all small houseplants (especially succulents) need their soil switched to higher quality, some soil types make it very difficult for the plant to receive any water from.
If you have a small house plant in soil that does not absorb water easily, you can still bottom water your plant, but the process will be longer. When you first put the plant in the soil, you may begin to notice that it is having a difficult time absorbing any water. It may be slightly repelling the water and begin to float.
There was a tip to help these poor plants take in the water they need on the same forum referenced above. Use small toothpicks to poke small holes in the hard soil. This will allow easier access to the roots and open the soil more to allow the water to soak in.
These plants will likely need to be in the water for a lot longer than houseplants in good soil. Allow the plant to fully absorb all the water that it needs before removing. The plant will need to drain afterward to remove the excess water it does not need.
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.
Kevin is the founder of Gardening Mentor, a website that aims to teach people to grow their own food in a limited space. As a self-taught gardener, Kevin has spent several years growing plants and creating gardening content on the website. He is certified in Home Horticulture and Organic Gardening by expert gardeners from Oregon State University.