What To Do When Your Planter Floods

Over the past couple of days, my area has gotten several deluges at once. My largest planter — which drains quite well when we receive normal amounts of rain – was not prepared to cope with 4 inches of water in less than 30 minutes. As a result, the container is waterlogged. It will stay that way until the drainage holes can cope with the extra water. Hopefully by then my plants won’t have completely drowned. Since they aren’t herbs or roses (which are intolerant of wet soils) I might stand a chance.

What could I have done to prevent this from happening?

Firstly, this planter obviously needs more drainage holes. Because pond liners are rip-resistant, drilling holes in it isn’t easy. As a result, I only managed to punch one hole in the front side of the container. This shows in that the front side has drained better than the back side.

Secondly, I could have elevated the planter (even though it is heavy) to keep the drainage holes off the ground so that they don’t become blocked.

Lastly, I should have mixed more aggregates into the potting soil to that the soil would be faster draining.

For now, I can siphon off standing water from the top of the soil and stir the dirt around the plants to aerate it so that the water in the soil evaporates faster.

If you are in a situation like mine in which your plants become waterlogged, here are some other tips that can help you:

Drain any drip trays and add mosquito dunks to your flower pot to keep mosquito larvae away.

Monitor your planter by sniffing at it daily. If the soil smells sour, this will indicate that the microbes in the soil that keep it healthy have died off and the plants may have developed root rot. Before the soil starts to smell, the plant may wilt or develop pest problems. The soil may develop a scummy residue, or you may see worms coming up to the surface of your planter to keep from drowning.

If the soil becomes smelly, add garden or agricultural lime to sweeten the soil again (although you may have to replant the container).

Other additives that will help if you have to replant the tub include finished compost, worm casings and more aggregates such as vermiculite. Then add plant food back to the container, since the flooding may have leached the nutrients from the soil.

You may have to rescue the plants by digging them up. If this is the case, lay the plant on its side on a newspaper and allow the roots to dry somewhat (about 12 hours should do it) then trim away any mushy roots that have developed and place the plant in a better container.

This entry was posted in Container Garden How To, Potted Plant Care and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to What To Do When Your Planter Floods

  1. Donna says:

    Always a shame when the pots get saturated. That has happened to me too.

    • Tracy says:

      When this happened two years ago in February I lost a huge lavender bush. After that, I studied up on the subject so I would know what to do if it ever happens again.

  2. tina says:

    Most of my pots are blocked too. All this rain is really something and even though the plants like the moisture I’m beginning to think it is too much. I need to add more drainage holes like you suggest-and soon! Great advice!

  3. Masha says:

    Thank you for such an informative post. Her in California we are lucky if we get 4 inches in two months :) , so waterlogged pots are unlikely…

    • Tracy says:

      We don’t normally get this much rain. But spring in Arkansas is prone to violent swings in weather. I live in a section that is called “tornado alley” for this reason.

  4. Donna says:

    great advice…my whole garden is waterlogged right now even with the amended clay soil…the addition of dunks is so important since those little buggers can breed is so little water…

    • Tracy says:

      Dunks have been showing up in hardware and garden stores more often with the rise of the West Nile Virus. Since I don’t have fish in my little container water garden, I even use them in that.

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