Watering your plants more often sounds like an easy solution but isn’t a great long-term solution. Some roots need moisture to survive. This sounds simple, but will lead to a decrease in the number of healthy roots in the long run. For example, if you’re going on vacation and can’t water your plant for two weeks, how should you ensure the soil remains moist without attracting pests or overwatering the plant?
Throughout this guide, we will explain how we can improve our soil in order to hold more moisture, and we will also explain why watering your plants more often isn’t a great solution; there are much better, more sustainable methods that will make your plants happy and help them thrive.
How to Make Your Soil Retain More Water?
These are the things we’re going to look at:
- It’s not a sustainable solution to water more.
- A perfect soil for moisture-loving plants
- Excellent drainage for plants that need moisture.
It’s important to understand why watering more often isn’t a good long-term solution for moisture-loving plants.
Why is watering more often not a long-term solution?
It isn’t a good idea to water your plants more often to give them more moisture. Here are 3 reasons why:
Your plant relies on you
When you need to water your plant more frequently and that’s the only way it will get enough moisture, your plants depend on you being here. If for any reason you can’t keep the moisture up for more than a week at a time, your plants will dry out and die. You can’t go on vacation without worrying about your plants dying while you’re away. That’s something every plant owner has experienced, but it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.
Soil compacts over time
Furthermore, watering your plant more often is less advisable because soil compacts with time, when it is watered more often, it will become dense.
Many houseplants do not do well with dense soil because it does not allow adequate oxygen to reach the roots. Root rot can contribute to this. Dense soil does not drain excess moisture away as well, so fungi can thrive.
When you need to water your plants more, you might accidentally overwater them. Plants don’t react to water issues right away; they take a few days to respond. If you accidentally water your plant more than you should, you’re at risk of overwatering it.
If you can extend the time between watering, you will be more likely not to make mistakes. You will be able to assess the plant’s response over a few weeks and determine whether to change your plant care.
How to make the perfect soil for moisture-loving plants?
If frequent watering doesn’t work, then what will? There are a number of great solutions that will help your soil retain more moisture.
It’s first important to determine what the ideal soil is and does for moisture-loving plants. Ideally, natural soil for moisture-loving plants should:
- Moisture must be maintained for multiple days.
- Make sure the soil isn’t too compacted by maintaining its structure.
- Allow excess water to drain away quickly.
Using this soil, your plants will stay the right moisture level without becoming overwatered. It will also ensure enough oxygen reaches the roots of your plants. But talk is cheap, let’s see what we can do!
Our next section explains which ingredients you need to add to your soil to help it hold onto moisture for longer, without compromising your plants’ health.
Among the ingredients you’ll need to retain moisture are:
- Sphagnum (peat) moss
- Coconut coir
If you don’t have access to all three ingredients, just make sure you have some. You’ll also want to add drainage ingredients, any one of these is great:
- Grainy sand
Here we will explain what the different methods are and how they can help hold moisture in soil. Then, you’ll be able to choose the method you’d like to use.
What is Vermiculite and how can you use it?
A naturally occurring mineral, vermiculite expands when heated, making lightweight particles. It’s naturally resistant to mold, fungus, and other diseases, and is nontoxic, making it suitable for long-term use with moisture-loving plants.
As with Perlite, you can mix this in with your soil to improve its drainage. It’s quite cheap and can be found at most garden centers. You can find a link at the bottom of this post. Vermiculite isn’t nature’s natural growing medium for plants. It doesn’t contain any nutrients, which is why you need to add soil and fertilizer in order for your plants to grow.
You should avoid adding too much vermiculite to soil, since it retains a lot of water. A good measurement is 1/6 Vermiculite, 2/6 leca/perlite/sand, and 3/6 soil.
Advantages: Sterile, resistant to mold, doesn’t go bad
Sphagnum moss (and peat moss)
They both have the same characteristics: they are dead and dried. The only difference between them is the way they are collected. Peat moss is harvested from the ground while Sphagnum moss is collected from live plants and then dried.
Adding peat moss to a garden soil that is acidic will add moisture, while adding Sphagnum moss to a soil that needs more neutral soil will add water-retention properties.
The chunks of moss will retain moisture quite well, while also giving the soil some structure. You can mix these types of moss into the soil. As moss is a natural product, it does include a few nutrients that contribute to the growth of your plants. Most nutrients, however, come through the soil and the fertilizer you apply.
If you want to use Sphagnum moss in your soil, you can add about 1/3 moss, 1/3 soil, and 1/3 leca/perlite/sand.
Advantages: Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties, pH neutral
The coconut fibers that make up coconut coir are great for improving water retention in soil. When you add coconut coir to your soil, you’re actually adding additional fibers to improve the soil structure. These fibers keep the soil from compacting.
Besides these extremely practical characteristics, coconut coir is also an excellent soil and plant protector, helping to keep the soil together and retaining moisture without attracting mold.
It’s important to note that, like Vermiculite, Coconut Coir itself does not contain any nutrients for your plants. You’ll therefore need to mix it with something that does, like soil.
In addition to coconut coir, add perlite, sand, or Leca for drainage if you plan to use it to improve the structure of your soil. Coconut coir does not drain well, and it might cause problems if you do not add enough drainage.
As a rule of thumb, use 1/3 soil, 1/3 coconut coir, and 1/3 perlite/leca/sand.
Advantages: Protection against diseases, optimal pH level for nutrient intake
Excellent drainage for moisture-loving plants
It might seem strange to add ingredients to your soil that improve drainage, but they are beneficial for retaining water. Perlite, Leca, and Sand should be part of a good drainage system.
You can add material to your soil that holds a lot of water, such as vermiculite, sphagnum moss, and coconut coir, causing your soil to want to compact in order to retain as much moisture as possible. Drainage will then be significantly hindered, as moisture will remain behind in the soil. Soil needs to be broken up to create drainage and moisture retention pockets. This can be done by adding Leca, Perlite, or Sand to the soil mixture.
As the soil is compacted, excess water can quickly drain away. Leca and Perlite are known for bringing dirt back to its original shape, even when water is plentiful. They also allow the flow of oxygen to the roots of your plant. Sand, perlite, or leca work well, so you can use whichever you prefer.
Your moisture-loving plants will thrive when they are provided with the moisture they need. There are a few ways to keep your plants happy with long-term solutions. These long-term solutions not only allow you to feel at ease, but also allow your plants to thrive.
Vermiculite, peat moss, coconut coir, and other moisture-retaining ingredients can improve your soil’s water retention properties. Adding moisture to your soil will also improve drainage, preventing any watering issues. With a combination of perlite, Leca, and sand you can improve the drainage in your soil. This will ensure your plants always have the kind of soil they love: plenty of moisture, not too wet; oxygen to keep pests away, and nutrients to grow with.