Martha Stewart Living Radio: The Radio Blog

The power of watering from the bottom up

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Peace lily, or Spathiphyllum, is a popular houseplant - most everyone has owned one at some point. And chances are, most everyone who has grown this plant has experienced its tendency to wilt dramatically. I'm not sure why, exactly, they wilt so easily. Maybe it's because their roots are big and fleshy, so they take up lots of room in a pot, leaving less room for moisture-holding soil. Fortunately, though it wilts easily, it also recovers fantastically - almost miraculously! When I came in this morning to discover one of our writer's plants in an awful way, I thought I'd document this plant's amazing ability to revive from what appears to be the brink of death.

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Whoa! That is one sad looking plant!

1 Whoa! That is one sad looking plant!

It looks even worse when you view it from above.

2 It looks even worse when you view it from above.

Bottom watering is definitely the best solution for this thirsty plant.

3 Bottom watering is definitely the best solution for this thirsty plant.

To bottom water a plant, choose a vessel that is big enough to accommodate the pot. It doesn't necessarily need to be this deep, but it must hold enough water to completely saturate the soil in the pot.

4 To bottom water a plant, choose a vessel that is big enough to accommodate the pot. It doesn't necessarily need to be this deep, but it must hold enough water to completely saturate the soil in the pot.

Place the pot in the water. At first, it will float, because it is so light and dry. But as it takes up the water, it will start to sit upright in the bucket. Leave it there until you can feel that the soil surface is moist, indicating that it has become thoroughly saturated.

5 Place the pot in the water. At first, it will float, because it is so light and dry. But as it takes up the water, it will start to sit upright in the bucket. Leave it there until you can feel that the soil surface is moist, indicating that it has become thoroughly saturated.

Two hours later, I took the plant out of the water and it was looking much better. It's hard to give a time frame for how long you should leave your plant in the water - it depends on how warm your room is, the species of plant, the size of the pot - so check frequently and don't let any plant remain immersed in water for longer than a few hours.

6 Two hours later, I took the plant out of the water and it was looking much better. It's hard to give a time frame for how long you should leave your plant in the water - it depends on how warm your room is, the species of plant, the size of the pot - so check frequently and don't let any plant remain immersed in water for longer than a few hours.

The view from above - it is definitely starting to recover.

7 The view from above - it is definitely starting to recover.

A bit perkier from this side, too.

8 A bit perkier from this side, too.

And here it is a full 6 hours later - pretty much back to its old self. Unfortunately, the flowers have suffered from the drought stress and won't recover. They should be cut off.

9 And here it is a full 6 hours later - pretty much back to its old self. Unfortunately, the flowers have suffered from the drought stress and won't recover. They should be cut off.

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