An overwatered string of hearts can be worrisome. And you’ll see a variety of symptoms appear.
But fear not.
The good news is that you can save your overwatered string of hearts in most cases.
The key is to identify the problem and assess how serious or minor the damage is.
From there you can treat it and save your plant.
An overwatered string of hearts usually wilts and droops. Its leaves will turn yellow and have edema as well.
To confirm, check the soil and the roots. Wet, soggy soil and root rot confirm overwatering. Although, root rot does not always happen.
If you’re lucky enough not to have root rot, allow the roots to dry out and then repot the plant in dry soil.
But for root rot, you’ll need to prune the rotten roots and disinfect the remaining healthy roots before repotting.
Signs of an Overwatered String of Hearts
One of the most important things you need to be aware of are the signs of an overwatered string of hearts.
This allows you to identify what’s happening to your plant.
More importantly, it prevents you from misdiagnosing the problem.
Just imagine thinking that the plant is underwatered when it is actually overwatered. This can be disastrous when you add more water.
As such, below are some signs to look for.
Wet, Mucky Soil
One of the more telling signs that you are dealing with an overwatered string of hearts plant is the soil.
Because many of the symptoms of underwatering and overwatering are similar, you can easily confirm one from the other but feeling the soil.
An underwatered string of hearts will have very dry soil.
In most cases, the soil will be dry all the way down to the bottom.
On the other hand, an overwatered string of hearts plant will have wet, soggy or mucky soil. And you’ll easily feel it by touching the surface of the soil.
Yellow leaves is another common sign of overwatering. However, you want to be more careful with this symptom.
That’s because yellow leaves can signify many different problems.
As such, it is important to match it with other signs of overwatering and not make a decision solely based on this symptom.
Yellow leaves usually occur due to lack of nutrients.
This happens when the plant is overwatered.
Excess moisture will dilute or wash out some of the minerals in the soil. Similarly, it affects how roots function.
As a result, the roots are not able to absorb as much nutrients from the soil when they’re drowning in excess water.
This leads to deficiencies in the leaves as far as nutrients are concerned.
Wilting happens a bit later on after the yellow leaves. By this time, the overwatered condition has persisted for a while now.
And this causes the leaves will start wilting and drooping.
If things don’t get better, you’ll see the leaves fall off as well.
Edema simply means bloating or swelling.
This will happen to leaves when the plant is overwatered.
Your string of hearts will absorb more water than its leaves can handle. As such, you’ll see water-soaked spots on the backside of the leaves.
These won’t be uniform. So, they’ll look weird and abnormal.
Root rot is another definitive sign of overwatering.
That’s because overwatering is the main reason that root rot develops.
Sadly, since the damage to the roots happen under the soil, you do not see it while it progresses.
This makes is very dangerous.
Root rot happens due to overwatering and waterlogging. Both caused by excess moisture that deprive the roots of oxygen. Similarly, the wet conditions allow bacterial fungal growth to thrive.
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How To Save Overwatered String of Hearts
The next section is the most important part of the article. Here, I’ll talk about how to save an overwatered string of hearts plant.
Once you’ve identified the signs and confirmed that all the problems and symptoms you’re seeing are caused by too much water, it is crucial to start treatment.
That’s because as overwatering progresses, it becomes more serious.
This allows it to develop into something more dangerous.
Below, I’ll go through the different steps you can take to save and revive an overwatered string of hearts.
Additionally, I’ll discuss the different scenarios you may end up seeing along the way. And what you can do to fix each of them.
Unpot the Plant
Once you’ve confirmed that your string of hearts is suffering from overwatering, take the plant out of the pot.
You want to be very careful when doing this.
Don’t jerk the plant or pull it out forcefully. Instead, gently slide it out.
You do not want to damage any of the roots while taking the plant out of the container.
Remove the Excess Soil from the Roots
In order to see the roots clearly, you’ll need to remove the excess dirt and soil that’s stuck to the root system. Some will be more stubborn than others.
If you find that there are a lot of soil particles stuck or they’re a bit difficult to remove, use water.
You can soak the plant in a sink to make it easier to remove the soil. Or you can run water from the sink or use a showerhead to loosen the dirt.
Prune Any Discolored Leaves
One of the steps you’ll eventually need to do is prune the damaged or affected leaves. This includes leaves that are discolored, drooping or don’t look good.
You can do this before you take the plant out of the pot. Or you can do it later on after you’ve taken care of the roots.
The key is to remove the damaged, affected or unsightly leaves.
Besides not being visually appealing to look at, when leaves get damaged, they may eventually die and decay. This can cause disease and infection that spreads to other leaves.
Similarly, damaged leaves won’t turn green again. Nor will they heal and become healthy.
What happens is that the plant keeps expending energy to try to revive or heal these parts. But to no avail.
So, by pruning them, you allow the plant to focus on healthy leaves as well as new leaves instead.
Let the Roots Dry
After you’ve taken your string of hearts out of its pot and removed the excess soil from the roots, take a close look at the entire root system.
Your goal here is to check the roots.
Ideally, all the roots are healthy. That means all the roots have a white color. They don’t have a foul smell to them. And they’re flexible while being firm to the touch.
This is the best case scenario.
It means that while the plant was overwatered, the roots are still healthy.
Therefore, all you need to do is dry the roots. I’ll take you through the steps below.
On the other hand, a not so positive scenario is if you see any brown or black roots. These will have rotten foul smell to them.
They will also feel soft and mushy.
If you see any of the latter, it means that root rot has set it.
In this case, in addition to letting the plant’s roots dry, you’ll need to deal with the root rot to try to save your beloved string of hearts.
Replace the Soil or Aerate the Soil
But first, let’s deal with the situation where your string of hearts has no root rot.
In this case, it is overwatered.
As such, the roots are healthy but they’re wet. They’ve also been in too much moisture for quite a while by now.
Therefore, your goal is to give them reprieve from the wet, damp environment.
The fastest way to do this is to keep the plant out of the pot. I like to set the root ball on top of several newspapers. This will help absorb the excess water from the roots.
You’re going to leave the plant to air dry for a while.
If you have a small to medium sized string of hearts, this should take but a few hours. It will take longer for larger plants.
Either way, put it somewhere with good ventilation and medium to bright indirect sunlight.
This will speed up the drying process.
Avoid direct sunshine indoors or full sun outdoors. You’re not drying clothes here.
Don’t use a hair dryer or any other appliance to try to speed things up. These can harm the plant.
How long it takes for your string of hearts root system to dry depends on how saturated the soil is and how big the plant in.
Therefore, just keep the plant in a warm (not hot) location with indirect sunlight and good air circulation.
Once the root ball has dried, you can repot the plant.
Use fresh, dry, well-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes.
And you’re done!
If There is Root Rot, Prune the Damaged Roots
The second scenario is if there is root rot. This means that in addition to some of the roots being white and healthy, you also see roots that are dark colored and mushy.
As long as there is one or more rotten roots, you have to immediately deal with it.
That’s because root rot spreads. And it can do so very quickly.
The worst case scenario here is that all the roots in your string of hearts plant are rotten. If this is the case, or almost all the roots have rotted, there’s very little likelihood of saving the plant.
In this case, skip to the next section on how to propagate your string of hearts.
This will be your best bet.
On the other hand, if only a smaller portion of the entire root system has rotten, you’ll have a better chance of saving your string of hears.
To do so, sterilize a pair of scissors or pruning shears. You can use a knife as well.
Cut off all the rotten roots.
Remember, you want to remove the dark roots not the white, healthy ones.
The more healthy roots your plant has, the better chance of survival and revival it has.
If There is Any Fungal Development, Disinfect the Soil
A third scenario is if the root rot was caused by fungal disease.
Here’s the thing, overwatering is dangerous because it floods the soil with too much water.
In doing so, it pushes out all the oxygen from the air pockets between the soil particles.
Unfortunately, roots need oxygen as much as they need water.
So, the excess water and drowns the roots and deprives them of air that they need to breathe.
This leads to suffocation.
And if the excess water does not drain or dry soon enough, the roots eventually die from suffocation. Then as with all dead things, they rot soon after.
This is one way root rot occurs.
The other is when roots do not suffocate to death.
However, overwatering causes the conditions to become damp and wet. This makes it conducive for fungi to develop.
Sadly, some of these fungi species attack roots.
If one of these varieties develops, it will eat through the roots and destroy them. As a result, you also end up with root rot.
Either way, you end up with dead, rotten roots that don’t function anymore. Additionally, the rotting will keep spreading.
Therefore, if it is the latter can caused the root rot, it is important to disinfect the healthy roots, soil and pot.
Otherwise, the fungal root rot can resurface later on after you’ve repotted and saved your string of hearts.
Similarly, if you reuse the soil for other plants, it will infect that plant.
The same is true for the pot if you use it for the same plant or another plant.
How to Disinfect String of Hearts with Fungal Root Rot
So, the first thing to do is disinfect the remaining healthy roots. This ensures that no remnants of the pathogen will carry over when you repot the plant.
To disinfect the root system,
You can use a hydrogen peroxide solution or fungicide solution.
I just like to fill a sink or container with the solution and soak the entire root ball in the solution.
This ensures every nook and cranny is disinfected.
Then take the plant out and leave it to dry.
You need to likewise sterilize the pot.
Here, you can use a hydrogen peroxide solution or a light bleach solution. Again, I just prefer to soak the pot in the solution.
Some growers will use soap and water and scrub the entire pot. This requires more work and it runs the risk of missing a spot.
Let the pot dry afterwards as well.
For the soil, I just carefully discard it in the trash.
Some gardeners will sterilize it in the oven or microwave. There are other methods as well.
I do not like to take any risks. So, I just start over with fresh potting mix.
Use the Right Kind of Soil
Once you’ve done the sterilization and disinfecting, the next steps is to prepare to repot your string of hearts.
You’re almost at the finish line.
But before you cross it, you’ll need to prepare a few things.
In most cases, overwatering is caused by watering the plant too often. But that’s not the only cause.
Other reasons for an overwatered string of hearts can be the kind of soil it is in or the pot it is kept in.
The plant needs well-draining soil.
And it hates sitting in lots of water for extended periods of time.
Similarly, it needs a container that has sufficient drainage to allow any excess moisture to drip out.
So, before you repot your string of hearts plant, make sure to have both of these on hand.
In all likelihood, you’ll be using a pot that is slightly smaller than the one the plant was in before.
That’s because you pruned some of its roots.
Also, have enough well-draining potting mix to fill that pot.
Repot the Plant
Once you have the new container and fresh well-draining soil ready.
Fill the pot with the dry soil up to about a third or 40% of the way. Then place your string of hearts in the pot and add soil to fill out the remaining space.
And you’re done!
Now find a good spot for the plant.
You can set the pot somewhere or hang the plant. The key is to give it medium to bright indirect light indoors or partial shade if you leave it outdoors.
It likes moderate to warm temperatures along with good humidity.
Water the Plant
The last part of saving your overwatered string of hearts is watering.
I don’t like to immediately water the plant after repotting it.
That’s because it just came from an wet environment where it has been staying for a while. Thus, the dry soil will allow it to recover faster.
After a few days or a week, you can start watering again.
Make sure to adjust your watering schedule to avoid overwatering problems in the future.