Do You Have a Dehydrated Plant? Let’s Learn How to Revive It

by | Mar 11, 2019 | 2 comments

Do you have a dehydrated plant? Did you let a plant get a bit too dry and the leaves have curled up or it has wilted over the edge of the pot? Has the potting medium shrunk away from the sides of the pot? Does the water run down the sides of the root ball instead of soaking in?. This happened to me this week and the following is what I did to revive my dry plant.

curled leaves
The dry leaves have curled up
dehydrated plant
Calathea that has dried out too much

Dehydrated plant and potting medium

You can see below there is room between the pot side and the potting medium. The potting medium is so dry it has shrunk away from the pot. The water doesn’t soak into potting medium like this. Instead, it runs down between the pot and medium and out the bottom without wetting the root ball at all.

dehydrated potting medium
Potting medium has drawn away from the side of the pot

Bottom water a dehydrated plant

So what to do? I filled a bowl with water and set my plant in the water. This bottom watering. It stayed there all day until the leaves uncurled and the top of the potting medium was moist. When the water reached the top of the potting medium it turned a darker color. This let me know the water had rehydrated the entire root ball.

dehydrated plant
I set the plant in water to let it soak up as much as it needed
bottom watering dehydrated plant
Drainage holes under water soaking it up

A good drink of water

The drainage holes are underwater and the potting medium soaks up the water. The moistened medium expanded back to the edge of the pot. Now when I water again from the top, it will soak into the medium instead of running off. That is if I don’t let it dry out too much again.

rehydrated pottting medium
Potting medium is rehydrated and back to the edges of pot
Top of plant when leaves were rehydrated
rehydrated plant
Plant recovered and is well hydrated

New potting medium

The next thing I plan to is repot the plant with fresh potting medium. Often, the plants are grown in a potting medium made up of peat moss. When it gets dry it hardens and shrinks. This medium, in my opinion, is not the best for this plant.

Or I should say it isn’t the best medium for this plant in MY care. I have a lot of plants, so often my plants get quite dry because I am not consistent with my watering practices. It’s true. The Houseplant Guru isn’t the best at keeping her plants watered well all the time. I am trying to be better, but keep getting busier.

I will crumble off as much of the medium as I can without damaging the roots. Then I will repot it with a more porous medium that will allow the plant to drain better. If dehydrated again, the potting medium won’t shrink from the sides of the pot.

Of course, not letting the plant dry out too much is the biggest key to success. I’m going to try to be nicer to my plants and more consistent with the water. I’m sure glad I could save this plant. Sometimes it doesn’t turn out as well.

Have you allowed a plant to get this dry? And did it come back after you watered? Tell me about your experience in the comments.

beautiful leaf
Love the colors on this leave

Have a great week!


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  1. Juliet Murphy

    All the time. It’s over 45° today and sunny so I’m talking my hanging basket wandering jews outside to give them a much needed soaking. When it gets too cold, I put them in the shower. I’ve been able to revive them many times, along with Oxalis, pothos, snake plants, dracaena, diffenbachea, philodendrons, spider plants, aloe, prayer plant, and overwintered geraniums. Not so much luck with Christmas Cactus, begonias, and palms.

    • Lisa Steinkopf

      It is hard to get some of them revived after drying out all the way. It happens. I lead a lot of begonias to their deaths, as well!


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