Overwatering is a common problem in the houseplant community. It can get alarming if you don’t take action and let the soil remain wet for too long. But the good news is there are ways to dry out overwatered soil.
Use a chopstick to poke some holes into the soil to aerate it, allowing the soil to dry faster. Move the plant to an area with more light. Let the plant remain in a low humidity spot and remove all the leaves and debris from the top of the soil. Also, avoid watering the plant until the soil is dry.
In this article, I will explain the different ways of drying out overwatered soil so you can save your plant from deadly diseases like root rot. So, keep reading.
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How to tell if the soil is too wet?
If the soil of your houseplant is too wet, you will notice that the soil has a dark appearance.
You will find that the soil sticks to your fingers when you touch the soil.
If the soil has been wet for longer, you will notice signs of it on your houseplant.
- The leaves might droop.
- The leaves will turn pale and will get discolored.
- You might notice dark spots on the leaves.
- The plant will slow down its growth.
- The soil might start giving out a foul smell.
- You might notice cracks on the pots due to the pressure of the excess water.
- Decaying roots if the soil was wet for too long already.
If you use a clay or terracotta pot for your houseplant, it will have a darker shade if the soil is wet.
Don’t panic if you find that the soil of your houseplant is wet, and act fast if you want to save the plant from fungal and bacterial infections.
Also read: Why Is My Indoor Plant Soil Not Drying?
Why is the soil overwatered?
You might want to know why your houseplant’s soil is overwatered in the first place.
The reason might not always be that you overwatered your plant by mistake, although that is the first thing that comes to mind.
It is possible that you don’t understand the water requirements of your houseplant and overwatered the soil while watering.
But there can be other reasons too.
1. The soil is not suitable for your houseplant
If you use the wrong soil mix for your houseplant, there are chances that it will remain wet for long.
If the soil has more clay content, it will retain excess water, making it overwatered.
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2. The pot doesn’t have drainage holes
If the pot of your houseplant doesn’t have drainage holes, the excess water will not have a way to get out of the system.
This excess water will make the soil overwatered.
3. You don’t alter the watering schedule
The water requirements of the plants change with the season.
If you don’t reduce watering during the winter, the soil will get overwatered when plants go dormant or reduce their growth.
This is because the plants don’t use all that water you give which remains trapped in the soil.
How do I dry my soil after overwatering?
Here are 10 ways of drying out overwatered soil that actually works.
I tried and tested these, so I can vouch for them.
1. Stop watering the plant
You don’t need to water your plant if the soil is wet.
You might be following a watering schedule, and maybe it’s time for the next watering session, but hold your horses.
If you keep watering a plant with wet soil, it will worsen the situation.
So, stop watering the plant and follow the next steps first to dry out the overwatered soil.
2. Relocate your plant
The best natural way to dry out overwatered soil is to move your plant to a spot with a good amount of light.
That doesn’t mean you can move the plant under direct sunlight.
If your plant can’t tolerate direct sunlight, you can’t relocate to a spot that gets direct sunlight.
But, if your plant prefers indirect sunlight, you can move it to a spot with more indirect light than its current spot.
The heat of the light will allow the excess water to dry out from the soil.
However, that might not be enough, so here are the next steps.
3. Aerate the soil
It would be a game-changer if you didn’t know this one already.
Take a chopstick and poke some holes into the soil to aerate it.
When you overwater the soil, the excess water blocks the oxygen supply.
Aerating the soil allows oxygen to flow into it, which helps it dry faster.
4. Make sure the temperature is not low
If you keep the plant at low temperatures, the soil will take longer to dry.
Therefore, try to increase the temperatures around the plant.
Don’t place it near any heating source, though, as that will be too hot for the plant.
Instead, place the plant in a warm room, balcony, or patio that gets enough light.
High temperatures will allow the excess water to evaporate from the soil.
5. Reduce the humidity
If you have a tropical plant that loves humidity, you might use a humidifier or other ways to increase the humidity.
But now that the soil is overwatered, it is time to stop that for a while.
High humidity doesn’t allow the excess water to dry out from the soil.
So, if you reduce the humidity levels, the air around your plant will go dry.
This will help the soil dry out faster.
6. Keep the plant in a windy spot
If your balcony or garden gets a lot of wind, you can take the plant there to help dry the soil.
Wind will increase transpiration, which will help the plant absorb more water from the soil and lose it through the leaves.
Remember that the wind shouldn’t be too strong as that can damage the plant.
7. Remove all the leaves and debris
If you find dried leaves or other plant parts on the soil, remove them.
These help the soil hold moisture, so leaving them on the soil will prevent it from drying out fast.
Once you remove all the dead leaves and debris, the excess water will be able to evaporate from the soil.
8. Use a hairdryer
I have used my hairdryer to dry the soil multiple times, but you must take the plant out of the pot first.
When you use your hairdryer without taking the plant out, only the top layers of the soil dry out.
But when you take the plant out of the pot, you can use the hairdryer to dry all sections of the soil.
However, since the air that comes out of the hairdryer tends to be hot, it can damage the plant and its roots if you bring it too close.
It can also kill the beneficial microorganisms in the soil.
Therefore, use the hairdryer from a safe distance, and it will work great.
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9. Take the overwatered soil out of the pot
Take it out if the overwatered soil is not drying out entirely while still inside the pot.
Hold the pot upside down and pull the plant gently by holding the stem.
Once the plant is out, remove all the soil and spread it on paper in a well-lit spot.
This will allow the soil to dry out and give you a chance to check the roots.
If the roots are not damaged but wet, you can let them dry by placing them on paper as you did for the soil.
If the roots look brown and mushy and you also get a foul smell from them or the soil, it’s the deadly root rot.
But don’t worry, we can fix them.
10. Repot the plant
If your plant’s soil is overwatered for too long and you doubt root rot, you should check the roots and then repot the plant.
Now, when you are repotting, don’t use the old soil.
The old soil will contain root rot-causing fungi that can affect the roots again.
So, this time, you don’t need to dry the overwatered soil and instead use fresh potting soil.
- First, remove all the damaged and decaying roots by pruning them with pruners. Disinfect the pruners before and after use.
- Spray fungicide on the healthy roots, so there’s no chance of root rot again.
- In the meantime, get a new pot and ensure it has drainage holes to let the excess water drain out of the system.
- Also, prepare fresh potting soil and add perlite to keep the soil aerated and prevent overwatering.
- Now fill one-third of the new pot will fresh soil.
- Place the plant in the middle and add soil from the sides.
- Tap the pot to help the plant and the soil settle.
- After repotting, provide water and place the plant in a well-lit area.
Also read: How To Fix Root Rot In Indoor Plants? (With Real Images)
How to prevent overwatered soil?
After successfully drying out overwatered soil, you must be careful not to repeat the mistakes that make the soil overwatered again.
Keep the following points in mind to prevent overwatered soil:
- Don’t follow a watering routine blindly. Water the soil only after checking its moisture content. Either use a moisture meter or do the finger test. Water only if the top layers of the soil are dry.
- Never use a pot without drainage holes. Empty the cache tray whenever you notice standing water on it.
- Don’t follow the same watering schedule throughout the year. The water requirement of your plant might reduce in winter.
- Avoid fertilizing overwatered soil as that can worsen the condition.
- Don’t place the plant in low-light or low-temperature spots, as these can make the soil overwatered.
Also read: How To Fix Overwatered Indoor Plant? (Signs, Causes & Solution)
Source: University of Illinois, Growing Indoor Plants with Success, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, University of California, Missouri Botanical Garden.
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