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How to dry overwatered soil

Did your plant get soggy? It happens. Here are the best tips on how to dry overwatered soil!

One of the most common ways to quickly kill a plant is by overwatering it.

If your plant suddenly get yellow leaves that are falling off, definitely check to see if the soil feels soggy.

Pretty much no plants like soggy soil – it can lead to root rot and the end of the plant. We want healthy roots – not rotten roots!

But, no need to panic. It’s actually a fixable issue, if you jump on it!

Why is wet soil bad for plants?

Plants absorb water and oxygen through their roots. If there is too much water in the soil, there is no room for air, or oxygen. This will cause plants to basically suffocate – or drown – in their own overwatered soil.

How can you tell if a plant is overwatered?

Signs of an overwatered plant include:

  • limp leaves
  • yellowing leaves
  • dark spots on leaves
  • dropping leaves
  • mushy, brown roots
  • a foul odor coming from the soil/roots

Why is my plant’s soil so wet?

The most common causes of soggy soil include:

  • no or not enough drainage holes in the pot
  • even if there is drainage, the plant is sitting in a dish of water 24/7
  • not enough light
  • not warm enough
  • the soil is hard and compact (needs to be aerated)
  • poor ventilation
  • running a humidifier nearby that’s unneeded
  • wrong soil type for the plant type
  • pot is too large for plant
  • wrong type of plant (ceramic vs plastic vs terra cotta)
  • too frequent watering
  • mulch or moss on top of soil is trapping moisture
how to dry wet soil on potted plants

How do you fix waterlogged soil?

To fix waterlogged soil, you are going to want to remove the soggy soil or dry it up. Then, be sure that your pot (for indoor plants or outdoor potted plants) or planting area has plenty of drainage to prevent overwatering from happening again.

If your plant is just staying kind of soggy but doesn’t need a full re-pot, consider moving it to a warmer or sunnier spot or adding a fan for ventilation. That will help the potting mix dry out a bit between waterings.

If you have a plant that is staying moist and getting mold, mushrooms, or gnats, consider switching to bottom watering.

overwatered plant dropped leaves
overwatered plant dropped leaves

How long does it take for soil to dry up?

If you lay soil out flat in the sun, it should dry in 2-4 hours. Without sun, it can take up to 48 hours.

How can I make my soil dry faster?

Light, heat, and ventilation will all help to dry wet soil. So, increase any of these to dry soil faster.

Consider these ideas to dry plant soil:

  • moving it to a sunny spot
  • moving it to a warm room or outdoors
  • use a hair dryer or leaf blower to dry
  • spread it out flat for more air flow
  • place a fan nearby for air flow
  • aerate the soil (if in a yard)

What to add to wet soil to dry it out?

The easiest way to dry out an overwatered plant is to completely remove the old soil and re-plant the plant in new, dry soil.

You can then lay the wet soil out or wrap it in newspaper and squeeze to get out excess water. Once dry, you can re-use that soil for other plants, assuming it’s not moldy or anything.

You can additionally try mixing in lime (ground limestone) to dry out soggy soil. Follow the instructions on the lime packaging exactly to be sure that it works properly without damaging your plants.

drooping waffle plant

Can a plant recover from overwatering?

You can save an overwatered plant if you move quickly enough.

To revive an overwatered plant, immediately stop watering it. Remove the plant from the soil and dry out the soil as best as possible or replace with new soil.

If the plant is looking very sad, I sometimes suggest just cutting it up – or cutting off any long branches – and propagating them. Here’s my guide on plants that propagate easily in water.

I have successfully taken an overwatered plant, turned it into a handful of cuttings, and rooted it to create a full new plant.

Prevent soil from getting soggy

The best way to prevent soil from getting soggy is to be sure that your pot has drainage holes and a clear path to drain water out the bottom.

If your pot drains into a tray, be sure to dump any excess water from the tray after watering.

For outdoor plants that get rained on, it is super important that they have drainage so they don’t fill with water during a heavy rain.

You can avoid overwatering by only watering your plants when the top two inches of garden soil feel dry to the touch.

Look out for signs of overwatering – including a limp plant, yellowing leaves, or dropping leaves. If you see these signs, test the soil with your fingers. It should be pretty obvious if it’s soggy! Stop watering and let the soil dry out.

Thanks for reading!

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