When you notice your soil is not drying out quickly, it is usually a sign that something is wrong. It is preferable for plants to have soil that gradually dries out after being watered, as opposed to being stuck in soggy soil. This article will explain why soil does not dry out and how to fix each issue.
Soil that does not dry out is often a sign of inadequate drainage, low evaporation, or reduced water use by your plants. Make sure the soil is well-draining and the container has drainage holes so your plants can use the water more efficiently. Increase light, ventilation, and temperature for improved evaporation.
Why Is My Soil Taking So Long To Dry Out?
The reasons why soil doesn’t dry out quickly typically relate to drainage problems, water loss through transpiration or evaporation, or the fact that the plant uses less water than necessary. In order to increase the time it takes for your soil to dry out, consider the following factors.
Water is used much less efficiently when plants are in low light, so soil stays wet longer after watering. You will often end up with lots of water in your soil if you keep your plants in low light conditions. If the plant is not using it, it will remain there for a long time without being used.
If you move your plants to a brighter spot, you’ll notice they’ll grow more quickly and you’ll see a dramatic diminution in the length of time the soil takes to dry out. People who end up killing their houseplants because of low light are most likely to do so because it is so easy to overwater them when they do not receive enough light.
Reduced temperatures slow evaporation from soil, which is why it dries out more slowly. Low temperatures also result in your plants having less transpiration and slower growth, which has a lower water requirement.
In the rooms I grow houseplants in, I like to monitor the temperature to make sure they do not suffer from temperatures which are too extreme. Digital thermometers allow me to keep track of minimum, maximum, and current temperatures, so I can determine if temperature fluctuations are causing problems. A drafty window or a draft from a heating or cooling appliance can cause drastic temperature changes.
A low temperature reduces evaporation, but it can also stress your plants, or directly harm them, making them less able to exploit the water in the soil.
Reduced ventilation for your plants causes soil to dry out more slowly due to a decreased rate of evaporation and transpiration. Ventilation can be increased with a fan, or simply by opening a window, resulting in soil that dries out faster, reducing the risk of overwatering problems.
Poorly Draining Soil
You can determine if the soil is insufficiently well-draining if water pools at the surface after watering, or if drainage holes take a long time to empty after watering. A lot of commercial houseplant soil mixes retain water well, but tend to drain poorly, making it difficult for the soil to dry out quickly after watering.
Perlite or pumice are excellent inorganic amendments for houseplant potting mixes, since they improve drainage and speed the soil’s ability to dry out. They speed up the flow of water, lower the soil’s overall water-holding capacity, and improve aeration, reducing the likelihood that the soil will not dry out rapidly enough. A healthy houseplant can prove difficult to grow unless it is potted in the right soil.
Pots With Few Or No Drainage Holes
It is possible for the soil to remain wet for an extended period of time when using pots without drainage holes. Water remains in the soil until it is either used up by plants or evaporates from the soil. Houseplants grown in containers without drainage holes are quite difficult to keep healthy. Sure, it’s possible, but it takes incredible attention to detail and has a low margin of error.
Pots with drainage holes that are not below the top 1/4 inch of the pot can result in water pooling at the bottom of the pot. Avoid the pots with drainage holes that are not below the bottom 1/4 inch of the pot.
Pots with too few drainage holes won’t provide much help with soil drainage. Make sure you choose pots with plenty of holes, especially if you’re going to use plastic pots.
Excessively Large Pots
Many of us do not realize that this is an issue, yet it happens frequently. The larger the pot, the more water it can hold. Small pots usually do not have this problem. The soil will not dry out quickly unless you have equally large plants that can use such a large amount of water.
Plants benefit from a little room for growth, but too much room can cause more harm than good. Select pots sized correctly to fit your plants.
The diameter of the pot should not be increased by more than 1-2 inches when repotting plants for exactly the same reason. Overpotting will lead to excessive moisture in the pot, which will result in rot.
Choice Of Pot
Compared to pots made of porous materials, such as terracotta, pots made of non-porous materials such as plastic and metal hold water much better. Switching to a porous material can greatly increase the rate at which soil dries out.
The plastic pots I use for the majority of my plants make them require more care. Even though I tend to use plastic pots because they are lighter and easier to fit into decorative pots, this can make them considerably less healthy.
Is It Bad For Plants When Soil Dries Slowly?
Slowly drying soil is bad for a plant’s roots because they are sitting in soggy conditions for an extended period of time. A pot that takes over two weeks to dry out can result in root rot, symptoms of overwatering, and can even cause your plant harm. In general, a pot’s soil should not take more than two weeks to dry out.
Growing houseplants normally often results in soggy soil that leads to root rot. A plant suffering from root rot cannot obtain the essential nutrients and water from the soil it needs to thrive, and this results in the plant dying.
Soggy soil is harmful to plants, not because of its abundance of water, but because of its lack of oxygen. Roots require clean, well-aerated soil to thrive, and soggy soil gets filled with water, preventing nutrient and oxygen exchange. In addition to weakening the roots, this also leaves them vulnerable to disease, ultimately leading to death.
How To Check Whether Soil Is Dry?
The idea of the soil not drying out makes sense, but how exactly do you check the soil for moisture? Although wet or dry soil seems like such a simple thing, it is easy to misjudge.
A dry patch of soil can often be damp just an inch or two below the surface, or if soil isn’t soaked evenly in watering, this can lead to a wet soil surface, but not enough moisture around the plant’s roots.
Follow these tips to make sure the soil is dry enough;
- Instead of just touching the surface of the soil, dig a few inches into it to feel for moisture.
- If you check the weight of the pot, you’ll be able to tell when your plant needs watering. Wet soil weighs significantly more than dry soil.
- It is useful for plants that like their soil fully dry before being watered, so check through the bottom drainage holes for wetness.
- The method of poking a dry skewer into the soil and checking for wetness will tell you whether the soil is still moist deeper down.
- Some people like to use moisture meters while I prefer to just use my finger and feel the weight of the pot. Moisture meters, however, can be helpful especially with large pots.
- If you intend to check the moistness of the soil, make sure to use a variety of techniques instead of just one.
How Can I Make My Soil Dry Faster?
You can speed up soil drying by increasing light, heat, and ventilation for your plant, making sure the soil and pot drain well, and choosing a pot that is appropriately sized for your plant. Try moving the plant to a pot made of porous materials such as terracotta, and make sure the pot has access to draining after watering.
It’s likely that there are a variety of factors contributing to the soil drying slowly, but a few small adjustments will lead to a much healthier plant.
How To Dry Wet Soil Fast
You can remove moisture from the soil if you see signs of overwatering on your plant so that it dries out quickly and avoids further damage.
- Put your plant in its potting soil and wrap newspaper or kitchen towels around it. Press the paper against the soil gently, allowing water to be absorbed onto the paper. This will rapidly dry out the soil and greatly increase aeration.
- You can also set the plant on dry soil after removing it from the pot. This will absorb some of the water by capillary action, and you will see that the soil becomes noticeably drier after a few hours.
- You can dry the soil by using a hairdryer near the roots after removing the plant from its pot. You should be careful not to blow the roots off the soil, but this can work wonders on the soil.
- If you have some soil left on the periphery of the rootball, gently remove it, taking care not to disrupt the roots, and then repot in the same container, using dry soil. I have done this many times and found it works well. Other underlying problems need to be resolved, but drying out the soil quickly helps improve the condition of your plants.
Growing houseplants often involves overwatering and root rot that occurs from not allowing the soil to dry out. The right type of lighting, soil, and pots can make all the difference in the world to your plants’ growth and make growing plants so much more enjoyable.