Plant Soil Drying Out Too Fast? (Causes and Solutions)


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The soil in potted plants is formulated to provide plants with all-round nutrition, aeration, and water retention, but sometimes it might be drying out very fast which means that some type of intervention is needed. 

Plant soil can dry out quickly because of low humidity, internal water channels, excessive sunlight, loose soil, and unwanted fungi. As a result, water can run out of holes at the bottom of the pot, while atmospheric conditions around the plant can escalate the rate of evaporation, causing the soil to dry out fast.

Having an understanding of how different types of problems are causing water to escape too fast from the pot would ensure that the soil never gets too dry. 

We are going to identify the different causal factors and what you can do to prevent the soil in your potted plant from drying out quickly. 

So have a quick read and learn about what you can do to prevent this problem.

If you are going to repot your plant, there are many good soil options out there but I have found this potting soil made by Miracle-Gro from amazon to be most affordable and effective in keeping my plants healthy long after repotting.
You can find it by clicking here.

Potting soil drying out quickly

What Causes Soil to Dry Out Quickly?

Several things cause potting soil to dry out quickly, with several of them being in your control. 

You need to know what the four most common causes are for the potted plant soil to be dry, and how each one will affect your plant’s health overall. 

An important distinction to remember, all these are ways that can cause soil to be dry, and will also negatively impact the plant as well.

A lot of people forget that plants do not enjoy being in areas that are too dry, with soil that is too hard, and air that is too hot. 

Plants that we know and love like tropical, hot, and humid climates are a lot more than the environments we like to live in. 

This is why indoor plants need a lot more work than plants that are kept outside. 

1. Humidity

Low humidity is the first cause of any soil starting to become hard and crackly, as even with regular watering the water will be sucked out of the dirt by the surrounding air. 

As the air gets drier, more moisture will be sucked out, with higher humidity allowing for soil to stay moist for much longer.

If you live in an air-conditioned apartment, home, or work in an office, you will need to water or spray your potted plant regularly.

2. Loose Soil

Loose soil is great for root growth, allowing your plant to easily spread where it needs to, however, it is not at all great for retaining water.

Loose soil allows water to simply trickle down and out through the pot and will most likely become a problem as repeated watering will cause the soil to clump up, becoming hard in some places, but still having channels for the water.

3. The Area is too Windy

If your potted plant is outside it may not seem like a big problem, but if it is too windy it will naturally assist in making the soil so dry that almost nothing can use it.

This is a common part of having potted plants anywhere the wind blows, as wind is usually lower in humidity which sucks up any moisture that may be in the soil.

4. The Plant is in Direct Sunlight

Sunlight is not always perfect for your potted plant, and it will damage the soil it is in.

Some plants love sunlight, but most that are safe to keep indoors prefer to be partially or fully shaded with indirect sunlight for most of the day.

The sun will bake any moisture from your pot soil, usually doing so with full force for most of the day.

To test the moisture and pH of the soil you can use the cost-effective Trazon Soil 3-in-1 Meter. It not only tests for pH but also moisture content and light intensity. You can find it by clicking here!

Trazon Soil pH Meter 3-in-1 Soil Tester Moisture

How to Promote Moisture Retention in Plant Soil?

When you have your potted plant and you start to notice that it is constantly dry despite your best efforts to give it some water once a week, or even once a day, you will need to look into how you can control the moisture. 

There are a lot of plant pots that are not meant to simply have soil in them alone. Different plants require different potting mix to produce healthy growth.

As a result, you as the owner would have to get to know your plant in order to know the right set of ingredients to add to the pot.

It is important to remember that each thing you can do to help control moisture will be more or less effective if used excessively.

Moderation is key!

Usually, you should consider the environment that the plant you are using prefers, working towards creating an environment that allows the plant to feel safe, as if it were in its natural habitat.

This creates a healthy plant and allows you to do less work in the long run.

  • Add Clay Soil to it

    Clay might seem like the enemy of all plants, but it has several properties that will help your potted soil stay moist for longer.

    Most clays act more like a sponge than the clay we know, absorbing moisture and sticking the other soil together, this allows the moisture to stay for a lot longer in the soil. 
  • Use Mulch

    Mulch is more than just the best way to keep the soil nutrient-rich, it is the best and most consistent way of keeping humidity for your plant high. 

    A good layer of mulch in your potted plant, just above the soil, creates a microenvironment that is high in humidity and allows for easy growth for your plants.
Adding soil amendments
  • Use Peat Moss

    Peat moss is similar to mulch and will create a hot and humid environment that locks in all moisture for your soil. 

    Usually, you will use peat moss on larger pot plants, which makes it perfect for pots that will be used outside and with much larger plants than the ones you would typically see in a home. 
  • Add Compost

    Adding compost does several things but should never be layered the same way that Peat moss or mulch is.

    Compost should be mixed with the soil in your pot, creating a 3 to 1 mixture.

    This allows for a great deal of moisture to be kept inside the soil and creates a healthy soil for your plants to use at all times. 
  • Use Soil Amendments

    When you are creating the potting soil you should add vermiculite to ensure that the soil, helping to balance everything. 

    Vermiculite is an expanded volcanic rock that absorbs a lot of water as it is very porous, allowing you to relax as the soil will be balanced and more capable of absorbing water. 

    However, you should only add this to your soil if you know that the soil needs some help.
  • Relocate the Plant

    The simplest solutions are often the most effective, simply moving the pot to a colder, less windy area should drastically help to improve the soil moisture levels.
  • Regulate Misting

    If you aren’t providing enough moisture, the chances are the soil will never become moist enough. 

    A good way to assist in the right moisture levels being reached is by having a schedule to just mist the soil and plant every few hours. 

    See how to properly mist plants here.
  • Repot the Plant in Better Soil

    If all else fails and you need to do some serious TLC for your plant and soil, you may need to repot the plant into a non-clay pot. 

    This will help because fresh soil and most other materials of pots are not being so absorbent. 

    Now, you will have an opportunity to use some the previously mentioned soil amendments to create the best soil mix.

I use this Miracle-Gro Potting Mix from amazon, which ensures my plants stay healthy long after repotting. You can find it by clicking here.

Dying houseplant

How does Dry Soil Affect Plants?

Dry soil usually causes plant roots to stop growing and discourages the plant from feeding naturally from the nutrients in the soil.

Hard soil also causes the plant to slowly die as it cannot use any water to keep its natural cycles from functioning, usually ending with the plant becoming dry and brittle. 

A lot of these things can be seen whenever a plant is too dry and should never be solved by a large amount of water suddenly being added. 

Not only does this cause the soil to eventually become rock hard and almost rock-like, but the plant can experience a burst in growth, literally causing it to burst out of its skin. 

Conclusion

Dry soil is a sign that you need to do a lot of changes to your plant and the pot that it is in, usually adding a layer of mulch or more to ensure that the plant receives enough moisture to comfortably keep growing.

A lot of dry soil is caused by simple things, with few people needing to try every solution out there, usually relying on only a few that will work.

Whatever you do, do not forget to mix in just some good soil, a surprising amount of damage can be done without any soil at all in your pot!

JayLea

JayLea has a passion for plants and has been gardening since 2015. He has valuable knowledge about gardening and houseplant care and can answer everyday practical questions that every plant owner has.

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