The Q&A Archives: Houseplants Dry Out Quickly

Question: I water my houseplants once a week, but the soil dries out in two to three days and begins to look cracked. I don't think the soil is holding any moisture. I'm afraid to water more often because I don't want to overwater my plants. What can I do to make the soil retain moisture?

Answer: It sounds as if the soil dried out and now isn't getting adequately moistened. Sometimes when the soil in containers dries out, it pulls away from the sides of the pot. Any water added to the container simply drains away, and isn't absorbed by the soil. If this looks like the case, place the containers in a pan of water and allow them to soak up water until the soil surface is moist, then allow to drain completely. Another possible problem is that the plants are potbound, with roots almost completely filling the container. It might be time to repot with fresh potting soil. Finally, your plants may simply need more frequent watering. Surprisingly, houseplants sometimes need more water in the winter than in the summer, because household heating systems dry out the air. Instead of watering on a schedule, try to check plants every few days and water them as necessary.

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