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What to do before you receive your order, once your new plant arrives,
& how to keep it alive.

Keeping your indoor & outdoor plants healthy after reception can be daunting, but if you keep a few guidelines in mind plant parenthood will be a cinch ☼




- Potting mix specific to individual plant needs

- Container with a drainage hole

The potting mix you choose should be specific to the plant you ordered. In the description of every plant there is a "SOIL" section that indicates the mix beneficial to the individual plant.

The drainage hole in your container is critical in avoiding the dreaded root rot! Root rot is the easiest way to kill most plants. It is caused by stagnant water at the bottom fvcfč, your pot.

Here at Horticult we ship our plants bare root & without a pot in order to reduce shipping costs. By definition to bare root a plant means to clear soil from the roots to prepare for translating. In our case, we will leave enough soil to keep the root ball healthy on its journey. That is unless you live in a state with strict guidelines for shipping plants, such as Hawaii, in which case we will remove as much of the dirt as possible. 

For this reason, you will need to attain some potting mix & a container with a drainage hole to plant your new plant in! 



Once you have received your order go ahead & plant it in your new pot. Initially your plant may go through a bit of shock from the journey, as well as being in a new space. Allow your plant time to acclimate to its new environment.


Generally speaking, these basic guidelines regarding water, drainage, soil, & light will help any plant thrive in their new space.


The amount of water a plant needs is individual to the specific plant. Overwater & under watering are easy ways to harm a plant & can easily lead to their demise. Drainage is another critical factor when it comes to balancing moisture levels.


Dun, dun, dun! Overwatering is known as one of the most popular way to kill houseplants. Follow along & you will see that it isn't as terrifying as people make it out to be. After all, a good defense is the best offense! 


By definition, overwatering occurs when you water a plant too much or when the growing conditions your plants are in result in the soil staying wet for a prolonged period of time. It is characterized by a number of factors, such as the yellowing of leaves, unresolvable wilting, & stunted growth.

Let's break down overwatering SYMPTOMS with some science, ya dig?

These symptoms are due to the inability of the plants roots to access oxygen properly caused by damage from excess moisture or water-logged soil. Plants need oxygenated air found in air spaces of the soil in order to respire. During plant respiration, plants use sugars generated by photosynthesis, along with oxygen, to produce energy for the plants to grow & thrive!

When roots are damaged & fail to uptake oxygen they are essentially starving the plant, leaving it unable to function properly. When roots fall short in providing nutrients it causes the leaves to turn yellow 🤯. The initial burst of water can lead to edema or blistering of leaves. As time goes on & your plant continues to receive more water, the roots become so damaged they fail to deliver water to the leaves, which causes them to become brown & crispy. Young leaves are more susceptible to drought & will turn brown first. 

NOTE: Take into consideration how easy it is to confuse these drought-like symptoms with underwatering because your plant is suffering from lack of water due to damaged roots. 

Other leaves will become papery & thin. Under normal conditions, leaves are responsible for a considerable amount of moisture loss. This loss of water will cause the leaves to curl. In an attempt to conserve water plants will shed them. 

While it can be fatal it is important to note that overwatering can be easily avoided by proper drainage. In most cases no matter how seldom a plant requires watering, if your soil includes materials that encourage drainage & your container has multiple drainage holes your plant will thrive no matter how much water it receives.

Overwatering PREVENTION

  • Use a well-draining soil

  • Plant in pots with a drainage hole

    • If your pot doesn't have a drainage hole, keep your plant in the grow pot & use your new container as a cache pot or drill holes in it yourself.

    • If it is a larger pot, drill multiple drainage holes.

  • Use porous pots, such as terracotta.

    • Terracotta pots are made of clay, which is a material that allows water to escape through it. This means water is able to leave through the entire pot, rather than only through the drainage hole.​

  • Good lighting​

    • If your plants are receiving increased light they will use the available water in the plant faster.

    • Soil will dry faster. The heat from the light will dry up any excess water more quickly.

  • Avoid cold temperatures & drafts.

    • Evaporation is increased in higher temperatures. It will be harder for the water to evaporate if it is cooler.​

  • Use pots that are just big enough. 

    • Larger pots will hold more water.​

  • Always check the soil before watering.

    • If your soil hasn't dried out to the proper degree wait before watering again.​

The SOLUTION to Overwatering

So you've identified your plant problem -- it's being watered too much. Now what do you do? First & foremost you must take the proper steps in changing your routine. Using what you've learned, figure out a beneficial watering program. & ALWAYS, ALWAYS check the soil before watering again.

If your plant has root rot you'll have to take more intensive measures.

To begin you'll have to identify that mushy roots is your main issue. The only way to do so is to remove the plant from its pot & inspect the roots manually. Roots should be brown or light in color, relatively tough, & firm to the touch. If they are fragile, mushy, brown or black, &/or emit a foul odor then you have a problem. If this is the case, prune off all of the bad roots. To prevent any pests or diseases from spreading make sure you sterilize your cutting device. Then, remove all of the soil & replace with a fresh mix. Read up on care instructions for your plant. Using your experience paired with this new found knowledge come up with a better watering schedule.

BOUNCING BACK from Overwatering

Once you have fixed your problem & your plant has started to show signs of recovery you must be patient! It can take around 6 months for your plant to return to a similar condition it was in before succumbing to overwatering. Sometimes it can take up to 3 months to see any progress at all!


Not watering your plant enough is just as detrimental as watering too much. Finding that perfect balance is crucial for your plant babies to thrive. 

Check Your Plant for SYMPTOMS

Plants affected by under & overwatering have similar traits, by those afflicted by underwatering are easier to identify. Plants that aren't receiving enough water display symptoms such as crispy or curling leaves, wilting, & brown leaf tips.


The easiest way to determine your plant is being underwatered rather than overwatered is that is should only be exhibiting symptoms of water deficiency. If a plant is being overwatered it will show symptoms of both.

Underwatering happens when you accidentally overlook your plants or forget to water. This happens a lot when one makes like tree & leafs town or is away from home for a prolonged amount of time.

Pay Attention and Practice Underwatering PREVENTION

Here are a few techniques to prevent your plant from being underwatered.

  • Make sure your plant isn't root bound.

    • Essentially, the plant has been in the same pot for so long that it has filled with roots, so much so that they wrap around the bottom of the pot becoming pot bound. This means that when you water the plant the water is used incredibly fast by all of the roots! To avoid this happening remove the pot (this can be difficult when the pot is root bound, but try to remove it as gently as possible; if it is a plastic pot you may want to cut it off) & check what the root system looks like. If the roots have wrapped around the pot so much that they remain firmly in the shape of the pot, delicately untangle the larger roots & plant in a bigger pot.

  • Avoid excess heat, excess lighting, or warm drafts.

    • Excess heat or too much sunlight will cause the water in your pot to dry the soil out faster than the roots are able to take up the water, resulting in the plant failing to receive adequate water. This leads to the plant showing signs of drought.

  • Make sure you water properly.

    • Be careful to follow the individual plants watering instructions. If they indicate you must water or saturate the soil to a degree so the roots can take up moisture make sure that you give the plant ample water to do so. Note that just because the top soil looks wet does not mean the rest of the soil is saturated. Dry soil can cause water to seep through quickly. If your pot has a drainage hole, your soil is light & full of materials that promote drainage​, & the soil was dry before you started watering, don't be scared about overwatering! Make sure you soak that soil!
  • Make sure you have the correct type of soil for your individual plant.

    • There are tons of different soil mixes that are filled with a wide variety of ingredients which promote an environment specific to certain varieties of plants. For example, a cactus mix is designed for desert succulents meaning it is light & good for drainage, so it will have materials such as sand, perlite, pours rocks, etc. If you were to use this mix with a plant that needs a heavy, organic & rich soil that holds water your plant may show signs of being underwatered even if you have been following a recommended water schedule because the soil is drying out too quickly & the roots don't have time to soak up an adequate amount of moisture before it has escaped the pot.

  • Pay attention to the plant's growth schedule & modify your watering plan accordingly.

    • Some plants take a growth break during ​winter. During this time it does not need to be watered as much as during the summer when it grows at an accelerated pace. 


Overwatering is far more detrimental to a plant than underwatering, so when in doubt wait a bit before watering your plants. Although the plant may shed its leaves if you haven't watered the plant enough, the root ball will remain relatively healthy allowing the plant to bounce back much faster. Again, if the plant is overwatered & the root ball is damaged it will have a much harder time recovering.

Ultimately, a balance between watering schedule & soil drainage will encourage thriving plants.



As we mentioned earlier, well-draining, organically rich, loam soil is one of the more popular & preferred soil mixes to use while planting. Ensuring your plants are in a well-draining soil is essential to their health. A well-draining soil is one that doesn't drain too fast or too slowly. Rather, it allows plants to absorb the water. If the water drains too quickly, the plants will become dehydrated & die. If the water drains too slowly, the roots will drown in the water without enough oxygen to send to the rest of the plant.

The essential element in well draining soil is oxygen. If the soil is waterlogged, the plants cannot reach the air pockets to receive it. While there may be some oxygen in the water, there is not enough for the plant to sustain life over a prolonged period of time. Even if a plant thrives in water, water-logged soil can be detrimental.

Another benefit to well-draining soil is that it takes more heat to warm up water than it does soil. If your soil is absent of excessive moisture it will heat up faster & your season will be able to start earlier.

Why can plants handle growing in water, but cannot survive in water-logged soil?

We previously mentioned that plants need oxygen to survive, which they receive from air pockets in the soil. Water, similar to soil, has a considerable amount of oxygen running through it. Whats more, when water is circulated it causes more oxygen from the air to dissolve into it, replenishing the oxygen that the plant has already used. 

Alternatively, water-logged soil is full of stagnant water that has very little contact with the surface. The roots will use the available amount of oxygen from the water, but once that water is used up it cannot be replenished. Whats more, the air spaces in the soil are are filled with water, so the air cannot circulate to the roots. This is prime time for bacteria & fungus to attack the roots, eventually leading to root rot.


When you pour water into a pot it will flow to the bottom due to the force of gravity. If we pour water into an empty pot it will be expelled through the drainage hole in the bottom (since we are brilliant gardeners & always have a drainage hole in our container). If we fill our pot with an absorbent material, such as a potting mix, a lot of the water will drain out, but some of the water will be retained. A good quality potting mix will allow some of the water to drain, but retain just enough water for the plant's roots to supply the plant with water, as well as oxygen. The reason that your potting mix retains water is because they are absorbent and can wick water upwards, against the force of gravity, preventing it from draining all the way out. The more absorbent a material is, the greater its ability to wick water, the higher the water will rise upwards, & the more water will be retained. 


While it is easy to determine whether soil drainage is healthy in a container garden, testing in-ground soil is a different ball game. Here is an easy way to figure out if the soil in your yard promotes drainage.

  1. Begin by digging a hole. Your hole should be around 10" - 12" wide & 12" - 14" deep. You can roughly estimate these measurements.

  2. Next, fill the hole with water. Let the water drain completely.

  3. Repeat. Fill the hole with water again. Measure the depth of water that is left in the hole.

  4. Measure the depth of water every 2-3 hours.

The water level of a well-draining soil with drop at least an inch every hour!


Time for another experiment! 

  1. Fill a pot with approxiately 1 quart of your potting mix. Make sure it is dry, & you haven't added any of the drainage promoting materials yet. You want to test the original potting mix before adding anything to see how much of said materials you should add. If you fail to test the original soil & begin adding off the cuff, you may add too much & your soil will end up draining too quickly, which we have determined can be equally detrimental. Follow the rule of thumb, you can always add more later.

  2. Pour approximately 2 cups of water into your pot. 

  3. Measure the amount of water that drains out after a few minutes. 

  4. If the mix is draining adequately, around half of the water should drain out after a few minutes.


In particular, compacted & clay soils can both drain poorly. 

Sandy soils can be tricky, as well.

If you are using any of these types of soil you will have to amend them by adding materials that promote drainage. 

If adding additional materials isn't an option, you can focus on planting varieties of plants that can survive in these particular settings. Desert succulents are a specimen that can survive in sandy soils. Plants that tolerate wet areas may survive in both compacted or clay soils.


Understanding the drainage capacity of your soil is crucial before adding materials to promote drainage. After all, we previously discussed having soil that drains too quickly can be just as detrimental as a soil that drains too slowly.

Add Materials That Help Promote Drainage

Get ready for another science lesson 🦠🧪 Studies behind soil drainage prove you must change the potting medias composition, therefore changing its physical properties, & that will ultimately increase your potting media's draining ability. By adding materials such as perlite, which is made of large particles that have a greater surface area & retains very little water, you will increase the air spaces between particles thus accelerating aeration. This will cause the soil to drain faster than a potting media without perlite, which is made up of smaller particles that are closer together. 

If you're confused or want a more detailed explanation, head over to my blog on soil drainage where I break this process down even farther.

This science disproves the popular notion that simply adding gravel to the bottom of your container beneath the potting mix will help with drainage. Unfortunately, all this measure will accomplish is reducing the pot