Watering pothos from the bottom | Should you do it?

Pothos can be watered from the bottom as an alternative to normal top watering. Bottom watering pothos can prevent the pot tray from overflowing and can provide gentle watering from the base up. Alternate bottom watering with top watering for a great way to keep pothos healthy.

Here are my top tips for watering pothos from the bottom, what you need to know to do it safely and the benefits of watering in this way.

What does it mean to bottom water pothos?

Bottom watering pothos is the process of sitting the pothos plant in a tray and adding water to the tray. This can also be done by using a self watering pot which holds water in the bottom which gradually absorbs up to the roots of the plant.

The bottom of the pot is filled with water and this travels up through the pot system to water the pothos.  The plastic lifts the roots up leaving a gap at the bottom for the water.

This pothos plant can be watered from the tray up. Fill the tray to the top and let the plant absorb the water over an hour.

Should you bottom water pothos?

Bottom watering pothos can be done but you have to take care to follow a few key tips. Watering in this way does run the risk of overwatering the plant, causing root rot and causing the plant to droop. 

How to bottom water pothos safely

Here are my tips to bottom water pothos safely without causing rot, overwatering the plant or causing it to droop.

Only add a small amount of water

When wearing your pothos from the bottom make sure to only add a small amount of water to the tray. Whether you are adding water to the pot tray or a the bottom of a self watering plant, it is best to only add just enough to fill the space.

Only bottom water your plant when the soil feels dry 2 inches down.  You can stick your finger in the soil down to the second knuckle to see if the soil is damp. If it is dry, go ahead and bottom water your plant.

Never let your pothos sit in water for longer than 4 hours

Pothos can be bottom watered but it is best not to allow the plant to sit in water for longer than 4 hours. Allow the plant to absorb as much water as it can in 4 hours and then tip the rest of the water out.

Fill a shallow tray underneath your pothos.

You can double water your pothos by watering from the top and the bottom and then remove the rest of the water out of the pot tray after 4 hours.

After 30 minutes almost all of the water has been absorbed from the tray.

Water from the top as well

It is important that you top water pothos as well as bottom watering. Switching between the two is a great way to water the pothos to encourage deep root growth and keeping the top and bottom of the soil consistently damp.

Always remove the extra water out of the pot tray after a few hours. Letting your pothos roots sit in water for too long can cause them to rot.

Problems with bottom watering pothos

Here are the top problems that can be caused by bottom watering pothos incorrectly.

Root rot

Pothos can die quickly if they are overwatered. Bottom watering pothos can cause this problem more frequently than top watering if the plant is left to soak in the water for too long. The roots can lack oxygen and can rot on the ends stopping them from absorbing nutrients for the plant.

Soggy soil and mold

Bottom watering pothos can cause the soil down the bottom of the pot to stay soggy and grow mold. Pothos that absorb too much water from the bottom can become incredibly wet and become anaerobic. The plant can suffer and can eventually die.

How long to bottom water a pothos

Bottom water pothos for around 4 hours before removing the excess water. After around 4 hours the plant will have absorbed a large amount of water and the extra can be drained out. Do this in the morning so that you can remove the extra water around lunch time.

It is easy to forget to drain the extra water out of your pothos tray so try to remember by setting an alarm. You can often notice white rings around your pot tray if you are using tap water. This is just the leftover minerals in the water and will not harm the hardy pothos plant.

White pothos like snow queen can be more sensitive to the chemicals and minerals in the water so try using water that has been demineralized or sat out for 24 hours to allow the extra chlorine to evaporate.

Can you over water by bottom watering?

You can easily overwater pothos when bottom watering if you have a deep pot tray. Shallow trays are usually fine as they will not hold excessive water that can damage the plant. I find the best method is to empty the pot tray after 4 hours as the plant should have absorbed the water that it needs.

What is the best way to water pothos?

I find that the best way to water pothos is to water from the top, allow it to drain through and empty any excess water out of the pot tray. Bottom watering can be alternated with top watering pothos to water the soil from the top and bottom.

Overwatering pothos is common and if you notice blackening leaves, wilting or yellowing there maybe too much water. Always check the soil moisture level before adding more water and remember to empty the excess water from the tray after a few hours.

Watering pothos from the bottom | Summary

Watering pothos from the bottom is an easy way to add water without causing overflow, it will be slowly absorbed by your plant and any excess can be tipped out after a few hours. The water will gradually work its way up to the soil surface where you can notice that it looks moist.

Bottom watering pothos is a great alternative to top watering, just avoid leaving your pot sitting in water for too long.

Happy growing.