Root rot is something all plant lovers dread. The euphoria of seeing your house plants thrive quickly vanishes when some leaves start inexplicably wilting. It doesn’t make sense — you’ve stuck to the same watering routine and don’t know what’s gone amiss. And then the realization hits — and it’s often too late to fix. If you’ve ever experienced this, we have a hack that might just save your next house plant.
Root rot happens when overwatering cuts off the roots’ exposure to oxygen, causing them to die. They’ll typically turn black and feel wet and squishy, as opposed to having the firmness of healthy roots. These roots can then affect the rest of your plant. As they decay, the rot can spread to neighboring roots and kill them as well, leaving you with a dead plant. It’s a sneakily deadly condition since it all happens out of sight. When it does set in, it’s hard to reverse.
That’s why this hack from LifeHacker is so genius. To prevent root rot, simply add a sponge to the bottom of your pot before planting. Then cover in soil, add your plant, and water as much as your plant requires.
If you want to prevent overwatering, you can also dip your finger 1 to 2 inches into the soil. Leave your plant be if your finger comes back with wet soil, but water if it’s dry. But if you happen to overdo it, the sponge will be there to suck the extra moisture out to keep your plants healthy.
This hack is great for those of us who love house plants but never seem to stick to an even watering schedule. Since the sponge slowly releases the moisture it soaks up, it also serves as a watering tool. So your plant will be covered if you water too much or not enough — the perfect scenario.
Next time you buy a new house plant, remember to add a sponge to the bottom. It might just be the thing that keeps it healthy and alive.
This article was updated on October 11, 2022.