Have 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? The potting medium shrinks away from the sides of the pot and the water runs 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 completely dry plant.
Shrunken potting medium
You can see below how there is room between the pot side and the potting medium because it is so dry the medium has shrunk away from the pot. When you water a plant this dry, the water doesn’t properly soak into the potting medium but instead runs down between the pot and medium and out the bottom without wetting the root ball at all.
Bottom water the plant
So what to do? I filled a bowl with water and set my plant in the water, which is known as bottom watering. It stayed there all day until the leaves uncurled and the top of the potting medium was rehydrated. When the water had reached the top of the potting medium it turned a darker color, letting me know the water had rehydrated the entire root ball.
A good drink of water
The drainage holes were underwater and the water was pulled up into the potting medium which soaked up enough water to expand 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.
New potting medium
The next thing I plan on doing is repotting the plant with fresh potting medium. Often, the plants are grown in a potting medium that is made up of mostly peat moss. When it gets dry it hardens and shrinks. This medium, in my opinion, is not the best for this plant. Or maybe 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.
Anyway, I will crumble off as much of the medium as I can without damaging the roots, and then repot it with a more porous medium that will allow the plant to drain better and not shrink away from the edges of the pot so badly if it becomes overly dry again. 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.
Have a great week!