Watering plants correctly is vital, and you can often end up with dry soil. However, if you’ve noticed that your houseplant soil takes a long time to dry out, you may have a problem.
Instead of sitting in persistently wet soil, most plants like their soil to gradually dry off after being watered.
When soil does not dry out, it usually means that the soil is insufficiently well-draining, or evaporation is insufficient. It could even be your plant is using less water because of temperature fluctuations.
To boost evaporation and water use by your plants, increase light, ventilation, and temperature. Ensure that the soil drains well and if the container has drainage holes.
Besides this, there are many reasons why soil can take a long time to dry out, but they all boil down to drainage concerns, water loss through transpiration or evaporation, or your plant’s reduced water use.
In our guide, you can learn how to dry out soil potted plant water pooling and won’t drain. By the end, you’ll be well-armed with enough information to use the most decorative pots that are too good at retaining water, but make sure such a simple thing as water drainage suffices to help your growing plants and prevent over watered soil. (Read Can You Use Potting Soil In The Ground)
How Long Does It Take For Wet Dirt To Dry?
In general, the soil in a pot should dry out in no more than two weeks. Typically, growing houseplants results in wet soil, which causes root rot.
Here are key reasons that can make soil dry slower than usual. Knowing these and the later fixes means you’ll have a much healthier plant.
Low-light plants require significantly less water, resulting in their soil being wet for much longer after watering. So, if you keep your plants in low light, a lot of the water you put into the soil will sit there unused for a long time if the plant doesn’t need it.
By shifting your plants to a brighter place, they will begin to develop faster, and the time it takes for the soil to dry out will be drastically reduced.
Unfortunately, low light is one of the most prevalent causes of houseplant death, as it is easy to overwater them in this condition.
Low temperatures slow the rate at which soil dries out by reducing water evaporation from the soil. It also causes your plants to have less transpiration and develop slower, resulting in fewer water requirements.
Monitor room temperatures where you keep your houseplants to ensure they don’t get too hot or too cold. A digital thermometer that records the minimum, maximum, and current temperature are ideal for checking for temperature changes.
Large temperature swings can be caused by drafty windows or drafts from heating and cooling systems.
Low temperatures, besides reducing evaporation, can stress or outright harm your plants, reducing their ability to use water in the soil.
Reduced airflow around your plants slows evaporation and transpiration, making it take longer for the soil to dry out. Adding a fan or just opening a window can improve airflow and cause soil to dry out more quickly, minimizing the danger of excessive soil moisture. (Learn How Long Can Flowers Go Without Water)
Soil with Poor Drainage
The soil is not well-draining enough if water pools on the soil surface after watering or takes a long time to drain via drainage holes after watering.
Many ready-made houseplant soil mixes are excellent at storing water. Still, they have a poor ability to drain, resulting in the soil not drying up for an extended period after watering.
Adding inorganic additives like perlite or pumice to a houseplant potting mix will help the soil dry out faster and make drainage.
These materials aid water drainage, reduce the soil’s total water-holding capacity, and promote soil aeration, averting the problem of soil drying out too slowly.
One of the most crucial components of healthy houseplants is potting them inappropriate houseplant soil.
Pots with a Lack of Drainage Holes
All water poured to the soil in pots without drainage holes is kept until it is used by the plant or evaporates from the soil. As a result, the potting soil may remain wet for an extended period as it is full of excess water.
Growing healthy houseplants in pots without drainage holes is exceedingly challenging as it is too easy to end up with soggy soil.
It’s much better to choose a pot with many drainage holes near the bottom. Avoid pots with drainage holes that aren’t bottom drainage holes, as these cause water to pool in the bottom inch or two.
Some pots have too small drainage holes, which won’t aid much with soil drainage. If you’re using plastic pots, look for ones with many drainage holes. A typical cause of dry garden soil is a lack of drainage holes.
Using Large Pots
It is nice to have large pots for your potted plants, yet they’re more than just a home for your potted plants to live.
Plants need to be in pots suited to their size, and the potting soil in excessively large pots ends up holding too much water.
Large pots hold a lot more water than smaller pots because of the larger soil volume. The soil will take a long time to dry out unless you grow similarly large plants that can use a large amount of water.
Choose containers that are the same size as your plants. It’s a good idea to give your plants some room to flourish, but too much room will do more harm than good.
A plant pot should extend only by 1-2 inches when repotting plants, as this excess can easily lead to root rot because the soil dries slowly unless you are growing equally large plants. (Read Straw Cover For Grass Seed)
Pots composed of non-porous materials like plastic and metal hold water in the soil better than porous materials like terracotta. This is because the speed that soil dries in a porous pot is much faster than plastic or metal or any other material that isn’t porous.
For exactly the same reason, porous pots are good; for some plants, they can be bad, and you need up with dry soil quickly.
Why Is It Bad When Soil Takes So Long To Dry?
Slowly drying soil is undesirable for plants since it implies the roots are sitting in water for an extended amount of time.
This can lead to over-watering symptoms, root rot, and the death of your plant. In addition, if the soggy soil in a container takes over two weeks for the wet soil surface to dry out, it is drying too slowly and will harm your plant.
Overwatering is one of the most common mistakes people make while cultivating houseplants, resulting in damp soil and root rot.
The plant cannot get nutrients or oxygen from the over-watered soil when root rot sets in.
To survive and thrive, roots require well-aerated soil, and soggy soil causes the air pockets in the soil to fill with water and prevents gas exchange between the roots and the air.
How To Check If I Have Excess Water?
It’s one thing to say that the soil should not dry out, but how do you inspect the soil? It may appear to be a straightforward task, but it is all too easy to underestimate how wet or dry the soil is.
Soil can appear dry on the surface but be soaked just an inch or two beneath it. When watering, if the soil isn’t soaked evenly, it can cause a wet soil top but a shortage of moisture deeper down or around the plant’s roots, where it’s most needed.
Here are some pointers to make in mind when checking the soil for dryness:
- First, push your finger a few inches into the soil to feel moisture.
- Examine the pot’s weight. By weighing the pot, you can tell if your plant requires water. Wet soil and dry soil will weigh much differently.
- Check for excess moisture in the soil through the bottom drainage holes. You’ll find this one of the better ways to check for plants that prefer soil completely dry before watering.
- Make a hole in the soil using a skewer. Then, wait for a few seconds and remove it. If the soil is still damp deeper down, you’ll see the mark on the skewer.
- Moisture meters are popular and more accurate than these methods in larger pots or plastic pots. On regular pots, using your finger is quicker and effective in stopping your plant from dying.
How to Dry Garden Soil Quickly
Here are some more accessible ways to dry out the soil quickly.
Check and Improve Your Pot Drainage
The first and most crucial step in dealing with overwatered soil is to ensure that the pot has adequate drainage.
Water your pot and watch the water run freely out of the bottom. If there is little to no water flowing out of the bottom, you may have wet clay soil, or the poorly draining soil is caused by a blockage.
You have a couple of options, in this case, to deliver proper drainage and prevent waterlogged soil:
- First, drill extra holes in the pot’s bottom to improve drainage.
- Repot in new soil.
It is advisable not to repot plants unless you need to. However, if you re-pot into fresh soil, you can create air pockets. You can also add sand or perlite to improve water flow and oxygen availability.
Remove any stagnant water from the area around the plant, and depending on the plant, you can use a pot made from a porous material that will absorb water from the soil.
Know the Type Of Soil You Have.
You can use different soils in the same container, and one can drain faster than the other. Use soil that is rich and loose for the best drainage.
If you have clay soil, add sand or compost to break up some of the larger, water-retaining clumps, as this will drain poorly. You’ll discover that garden soil for potted plants is not a good idea as it leads to overwatered soil, and it won’t be soaked all the way evenly around the root ball.
If in doubt, choose a suitable grade organic potting soil and not compact it. Keep the soil loose and watering the plant will cause the soil to condense.
Move To A Sunny Location
To dry the soil quickly, you can move your pot to a sunnier spot around the home. This will also stop mold or bugs such as fungus gnats that thrive in overwatered soil.
You can place soil outside in layers 1-2 inches should you have excessive overwatered soil. To dry soil that has a plant in it, you can increase the amount of sunlight by:
Position them in a south direction. However, if it gets too hot, you may have to shade your plant.
Aside from the light, sufficient ventilation, commonly known as the wind, is another aspect of nature that indoor plants typically lack.
The wind is an often-overlooked aspect of gardening, yet it aids pollination, toughens the roots, and, of course, helps transfer water vapor away from the soil. Using a modest fan at a low speed is a smart approach to improve poor ventilation and remove moisture in a few hours if you have houseplants.
Monitor your plant to make sure it doesn’t topple over or become too dry because of the wind. Place it at least 3 feet away to aid with this.
Other options for increasing indoor plant ventilation include:
- Taking the plant outside
- Placing it near an open window
Garden soil that has been overwatered can be dried by replacing or adding more soil. If you do this, take advantage of one of the best ways to remove excess water with little further effort.
You can quickly fix the issue using lime, a compound made from crushed limestone. Lime also does more than dry your soil taking ages to dry. Lime delivers much-needed nutrients to the waterlogged root ball for strong root growth.
Quicklime and hydrated lime are the most effective for drying soil fast. Calcium oxide (Cao) or hot lime is the chemical name for quick lime, and Calcium hydroxide is known as slaked lime.
Both can be used, yet hydrated lime is beneficial for dry silt soil and wet clay. (Read Does Potting Soil Go Bad)
Sprinkle the mixture on the over-watered garden soil, and it will generate heat as the lime reacts with the moisture in the soil. The reaction helps move water vapors that evaporate off the soil surface in around 1-3 hours and is among the quick ways how to dry out soil quickly.