A plant that is not drying out within a few days from the day of watering probably has some deficiencies. The potting soil may be poorly-draining, the pot may be too large and there may not be enough drainage holes. Your plant may be growing in poor sunlight, cool temperatures without adequate air circulation.
Whatever the case, you want to ensure that the soil doesn’t stay wet for extended periods of time, as constantly wet soil can lead to blackening of stems, root rot, and plant death. There are many reasons why you would like to dry out wet potting soil as quickly as possible. The most common one is if you have overwatered a plant and you want to try saving it. Here is what you can do to dry out the soil quickly and save your overwatered plants.
- How To Dry Out Soil
- How to Check For Dryness
- In a Nutshell…
- Final Words
- Frequently Asked Questions
How To Dry Out Soil
1.Use Well-Draining Soil
This is the first prerequisite that you want to meet. Use fertile, nutrient-rich, and well-drained soil that is recommended for the plants you are growing. The soil should also be moisture-retentive and well-aerated soil. You can tell you are using poorly-draining soil if it stays on the surface of the soil when watering, resulting in waterlogged soil and constantly wet soil surface.
Consider the consistency of the soil, pH, water-holding capacity, and content of the soil when potting plants. Some ingredients that improve soil drainage and create air pockets are perlite, vermiculite, horticultural charcoal, grit, and crockery shards. You want to combine them with regular growing mediums such as peat, moss, coir, and coarse sand. Check the recommended ingredients for each of your plants. To increase soil moisture, gardeners recommend mulching.
2.Select the Right Pot
Growing healthy plants is closely associated with using the right pots. Selecting the right pot includes choosing the right size and material of the pot, as well as the number of drainage holes.
Many plant growers use plastic pots since they are very affordable, while some opt for very decorative pots. However, sometimes they have poor drainage and that’s how you get waterlogged plants. Opt for porous materials such as a terracotta pots, which improve local humidity too if made wet. It should also have a saucer, which should be emptied when the plant is watered.
Overwatered soil is mainly the result of a pot not having enough drainage holes. The pot you are using should have enough drainage holes, ideally around six, and they shouldn’t be distributed in the very center of the pot, but rather, closer to the edges.
When repotting, choose a pot that’s only one size larger than the original pot but again large enough to accommodate the root ball. If you select excessively large pots, the plant will need a lot more water but it won’t reach the plant’s short roots, whereupon the plant will sit in constantly wet soil.
3.Increase the Amount of Light
If your plant is not drying out properly, the chances are that they are getting way too much shade and way too little sunlight.
To dry wet soil fast, position your freshly watered plants in brighter light, but always make sure to check the light requirements of individual plants.
To be on the safe side, don’t expose them to direct sun, especially not if you have watered plants’ leaves too, or else leaf spots will appear.
Cold temperatures are another reason why soil dries slowly, especially in the colder months. On the other hand, maintaining higher temperature levels will result in growing a much healthier plant whose soil structure is not damaged by temperature fluctuations.
That said, ensure that the temperatures do not ever fall below 13 degrees C. As a general rule, you want to ensure the room temperature in the summer is pleasant, between 15-25 degrees depending on individual potted plants to help dry soil out. However, don’t stand your plants next to heaters and air conditioners.
Related: 7 Signs That Plants Are Too Cold
5.Provide Good Air Movement
Air circulation is crucial for a plant’s health, especially during warmer months. A good air movement allows plants to breathe and dry out faster, so it is advisable to open windows frequently during warm months or install fans if you don’t have any windows.
However, don’t stand your plants next to drafty windows in the winter, as this will stress plants especially after they have been watered.
6.Alter Your Watering Routine
How often should you be watering your houseplants? More liberally in summer, less frequently in winter. Watering too often in the winter leads to plant standing in wet soil for too long, as the plant receives far less sunlight and the temperatures are a lot lower for the plant to dry out properly.
It follows that you want to ensure you are following sound watering routine. Water freely during warmer months, but cut back on watering in colder months so as not to force plants to live in wet, soggy, and cold soil. Let the excess water drain away. Use moisture meters to check houseplant soil or run the finger test.
Related: Watering Plants From The Bottom
If you have already overwatered a plant, you can still try to save it by drying out the soil. Gently free the plant from the pot, so that it comes out with soil and roots intact. Lightly pat down the edges of the soil using paper towels to absorb excess water. Let the plant stand, unpotted, on a plate until it becomes moist to the touch. The soil will become dry a lot more quickly when you return it to the pot.
If you have irreversibly overwatered the plant, the soil is simply too wet and you see your plant dying, try repotting the plant. Dispose of the old, wet soil mix. Use a sterilized, slightly larger pot and a fresh potting mix when repotting. Position in bright indirect sunlight.
How to Check For Dryness
- Pull the plant out of its pot a little and take a look at the soil. Check the moisture and inspect the roots while you are at it.
- Run a finger test. Stick your finger in the soil and if it sticks to your finger, it is still wet. The process is the same as using a tooth pick when baking – easy peasy.
- Use a moisture meter for larger plants.
- Use a wooden stick and insert it in the soil. If the soil accumulates onto it, it is still wet.
- Weigh the pot in your hands. Does it feel light? If yes, the soil is dry.
To be absolutely positive that the soil is dry, use two of these methods.
In a Nutshell…
Successful indoor gardening is hugely dependent on the type of soil you are using as soil quality affects the overall plant health. Soil should be fast-draining, nutrient-rich and be capable of retaining water at the same time. If not, after watering your soil may easily become waterlogged, overwatered, and develop a poor root system or even root rot. Besides, it will take a lot of time to dry out, so you risk killing the plant. Follow these simple guidelines to avoid that:
- Use adequately sized pots made from a porous material such as terracotta with enough drain holes.
- Let soil dry between waterings, but soak it evenly when watering.
- Dispose of excess water.
- Provide more sunlight.
- Cater for poor ventilation and allow good air circulation.
- Inspect plant’s roots regularly for moisture and root rot.
- Increase room temperatures and don’t allow temperature extremes.
Soil that is drying out relatively fast is an indicator that it is good quality and well-drained. If that’s not the case and it is taking a lot of time to dry out, your plant may be living in a poorly-draining potting medium, in a pot with not enough drainage holes, or in one that’s not the right size for the plant. What’s more, your plant may be receiving insufficient sunlight or warmth. Or, you may be overwatering the plant.
To encourage the soil to dry out faster, increase light, temperatures and air flow, and allow time between your water applications. Check the quality of the soil and the drainage holes on the pot. These tricks will help you get your soil to dry out faster.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can I Fix a Soggy Soil?
In case you haven’t been repeatedly overwatering, you are likely to save your soggy plant. Remove it from the pot and pat the soil with paper towels. Then, pot the plant back to its pot and move it to a brighter location, increasing temperatures and air movement.
Why is My Plant Soil Constantly Wet?
Firstly, your plant might be growing in an inadequate, large pot with an insufficient number of drainage holes. The soil may be poorly-draining, so ensure that the pot and soil you are using are just right. Next, your plant might be getting too little sun with very little airflow, so cater for those conditions, too. Temperatures shouldn’t be low in winter and cut back on watering at that time.
How Long Should It Take For Soil to Dry Out?
Generally speaking, smaller plants should take between one and two days to dry out completely, while larger plants need some more time. If a plant is mulched, it will also need more time to dry out. In any case, the watered soil should lose some of the moisture after four hours, which is an indicator that it is well-drained.