What is the Benefit of Bottom Watering Your Plants?

by | Oct 13, 2020 | 4 comments

What is the benefit of bottom watering plants?

What is bottom watering? Why would you water plants from the bottom?

There are a couple of reasons people choose to water that way. Let’s talk about bottom watering plants and the benefits it has for your plants.

Beautiful African violet
Beautiful African violet

What is bottom watering?

Let’s first define bottom watering. A plant stands in a basin of water and the plant draws the water up through the bottom drainage holes.

This technique is the opposite of watering from the top with a water receptacle (i.e. watering can).

top watering a plant
Top watering a plant with a watering can

Is bottom watering necessary?

Bottom watering isn’t necessary most of the time.

People believe that plants such as African violets cannot tolerate wet foliage. I’m here to tell you they can. They naturally grow in Africa and it rains there…..

So, you can top water an African violet and even rinse off its fuzzy foliage that collects dust. The key is not to use cold water which will damage the leaves. I also don’t let water sit in the crown of the plant which causes rot.

bottom watering an African violet
I used an old pie plate to bottom water this African violet.

Why bottom water plants?

So there is one reason to bottom water. If a plant has dried out and the potting medium has pulled away from the sides of the pot. Bottom watering is the best way to rehydrate the plant.

If top watered, the water would run down the side of the root ball between it and the pot edge, never wetting the root ball.

Stand the plant in a basin of water. The water is drawn up into the plant. As the potting medium absorbs the water it will re-expand and touch the pot edges.

After the plant has drawn up as much water as it needs, dump the remaining water. The plant shouldn’t stand in water too long.

soil shrinking from pot side
This plant is so dry, the potting medium has shrunk away from the sides of the pot.

Flush the soil after bottom watering plants

If you bottom water your plants, the potting medium will need flushing out often. This removes harmful fertilizer residue and excessive minerals.

Run water through the potting medium to “flush” out any unwanted substances. These come from the water itself or fertilizer residue.

Final thoughts on bottom watering plants

Bottom watering isn’t a bad thing or a watering technique that you shouldn’t use. In the case of African violets, it isn’t necessary as many believe.

It is beneficial in the case of an overly dry plant that needs its potting medium rehydrated. As I always say, if what you are doing is working for you, keep doing it. Don’t fix what isn’t broken.

If you find your plant is struggling and you only bottom water, it may need to have the potting medium flushed out. Or it may need repotting with fresh potting medium.

Have a great week, plant friends!


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Leave a Comment


  1. Nancy Thompto

    Thank you for all your advice.

    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Hi Nancy,
      Thanks so much! I love doing it! Lisa

  2. Mei Chein

    It is a great content. Can I use this method for succulents?

    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Yes! If they have become extremely dry it will definitely work for succulents!


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