Yes, plants can be adversely affected if they are overwatered. The plant may turn shades of brown and yellow. The dirt around it may begin to show signs of algae growth, and the plants themselves may wilt and not be able to produce any more growth. By adding too much water, the plants are essentially choked and are unable to get the air that they need.
Plants need soil to be aerated, which is hard to achieve if the soil is flooded with water. It also weakens the plant’s ability to develop a strong root system that can stabilize the stem and crown of the plant – which is not an issue with hydroponics, however.
Seeds, on the other hand, are hard to overwater. They will only absorb as much as they need and no more. The only threat of ‘too much water’ for seeds is to create conditions in which fungus can grow and kill the seed (called “damping off”); to wash them away; or float them to the top of the soil, where they will not likely survive.
Plants that can easily be damaged by overwatering are succulents, which include aloe, agave, yucca and a variety of cactus species. These plants have evolved to store large amounts of water in their extended-size roots, leaves or stems while awaiting rainfall in a dry environment. When caring for these types of plants, the top half-inch or so of soil should be 100% dry before any water is given. If succulent plants are grown in clay or another very compact soil, the roots may easily become overwatered and drown, therefore killing the plant. Soil mixed with sand and gravel is optimal.
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