Potted Plant Soil Drying Out Too Fast? Here’s Why

Water management is key to growing healthy, beautiful, and lush potted plants. Just like goldilocks, potted plants do best when they don’t have too much or too little sun and water. However, one of plant parents’ most challenging balances is ensuring their potted plant’s soil doesn’t dry out too fast. 

Potted plant soil can dry out too fast due to several common reasons. These reasons include too much heat and sunlight, growing plants in an arid environment, using the wrong soil, or using too small a pot. You can easily address all of the issues with easy fixes you can do at home.  

It’s sad to lose a plant for a mistake as simple as lack of hydration, and it’s an easily preventable loss. In this article, I’ll discuss what each of these issues is that causes potted plant soil to dry out too fast and what you can do to minimize these effects and keep your plants happy and growing strong. 

Why Plant Soil Dries Out

Regardless of how long you have been growing plants, dry potting soil is a problem that affects potted plants of all shapes and sizes and gardeners of all experience levels. 

Figuring out the balance between underwatering and overwatering is essential to maintaining plant health because too much water or too little is the easiest way to stress and even kill your plants. In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure, so taking steps to minimize fast soil drying is critical. 

At its core, dry potting soil comes from too little water in the earth. And while it might seem like the obvious fix is to add more water to the soil, this is just a bandage to the problem and not a real solution. 

Failure to prevent or address the underlying problem with your pot or soil will mean that you’ll constantly be fighting to keep your plant well hydrated, or worse, you’ll end up with an overwatered plant and potential consequences such as root rot or mold. 

Too Much Heat or Sunlight

One of the most common underlying issues that cause potted plant soil to dry out too fast is too much heat, sunlight, or a combination of both. This excess heat can come from heat sources such as a radiator, a fireplace in the winter, or an afternoon-facing window in the summer. 

Radiant heat from an artificial source or a natural source can dry plant soil out quicker than the plant can absorb enough water for its biological functions. Over time, this will result in dry leaves or leaves with dried-out-looking tips. Underwatered plants will look dull, dry out, and stop producing new leaves and buds. 

Growing Plants in Low Humidity

Even if your plants are not near a direct heat source, the general environment can contribute to a potted plant’s soil drying out too fast. If your potted plants are indoors, humidity below 30% can dry out your plants regardless of whether it is warm and sunny in your home. Low humidity levels are widespread in the wintertime and arid climates, such as the desert. 

You Are Using the Wrong Soil

If your plants are drying out too quickly, it might be that you are using the wrong soil. Most plants you buy at the nursery or your local big box soil will come in potting soil. However, if you have repotted your plant recently and notice it drying out too fast, the soil might be the culprit.

Most dirt used for plants in pots contains amendments that will retain moisture better, including things like peat moss, mulch, and vermiculite. If you repotted your plant with regular garden soil (especially if you live in a sandy area), your soil might not retain water as well as soils formulated for potted plants. 

Your Plant Pot Is Too Small

Plants often outgrow their pots, one of the biggest challenges of keeping potted plants. Unless you are undergoing a regular regiment of trimming your plant roots to keep your plant small, chances are your plant is growing an intricate and extensive system of roots right as we speak. 

This overgrowth means that the pot is filling up with roots, and those roots are sucking up more and more water from the soil.

The overgrown roots may also displace some soil from your pot, reducing the overall water-holding capacity. If there isn’t enough soil to hold moisture, the water will drain out of the holes or evaporate more quickly way before the roots can absorb it.

Easy Fixes for Plant Soil Drying Out Too Fast

If your plant is already at a stage where the soil has dried out, the following list will help you fix the problem so that your plant doesn’t continue to dry out too fast.

As mentioned, preventing the issue before it occurs is the best route, but sometimes you may act too late, and little intervention is needed to help get your plant back on track.

1. Water Your Plant Deepy

If you notice that your plant is drying out fast, ensure that you are giving your plant enough water. This process might mean giving your plant more water than you have been giving it in the past or changing your watering schedule

It is generally better to water your plants deeply but slowly to encourage the roots to grow stronger. It will also prevent your soil from drying or draining out too quickly before the roots can maximize using moisture.

2. Move Your Plant to a Cooler, Less Sunny Location

One of the reasons your plant might be drying out too fast is because it is in a bad location. Take a few moments to observe where your plant is. Is it right near a heat source like a radiator, a fireplace, or a range? 

If so, these artificial heat sources might dry out the plant quicker than it can absorb water. If your plant is on a window sill, it might be that the plant is getting dried out by the heat of the sun. 

The afternoon sun tends to be hotter and more intense, so if your plant is getting full sun at that time of day, consider moving it to the opposite side of the house to get less intense morning sun. 

3. Increase Humidity

If you have tried watering your plant more or moved it to another location and still notice that it is drying out too fast, other factors could be at play.

Humidity is a huge factor in how quickly water can evaporate. Water tends to evaporate very slowly if it exceeds 50% humidity. Conversely, water will evaporate very quickly when humidity is less than 10%. 

Many different things can affect overall humidity in a home, but if it is winter or you live in an arid environment, it could be that it is too dry in your home and the water is just evaporating from your plants.

You can fix this by adding a humidifier to control your home’s humidity or by taking a water spray bottle and spritzing your plant from time to time to keep it moist. You can also move moisture-loving plants to rooms with higher humidity, like a kitchen or a frequently used bathroom.

4. Repot Your Plant

Repotting can be stressful for the plant, but in a last-ditch effort to ensure it gets all the water it needs from regular watering, this might be the solution. When repotting your plant, select a pot that is at least 20% larger than the pot in which you initially housed your plant.

Also, choose high-quality potting soil and spend a little extra on soil specially formulated for potted plants, and many higher-end brands have formulas that improve moisture retention. 

Soil amendments like compost, vermiculite, and coco peat also help improve the water-holding capacity of a potting mix.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your plant well watered is key to your plant’s health. The best course of action is always prevention, so ensure you don’t expose your plant to situations that could cause it to dry out too fast. If your plant does dry out, know that you can take several steps to get your plant back on track.  

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the founder of TheGrowingLeaf.com and its lead content writer. He created the website in 2022 as a resource for horticulture lovers and beginners alike, compiling all the gardening tips he discovered over the years. Alex has a passion for caring for plants, turning backyards into feel-good places, and sharing his knowledge with the rest of the world.

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