My Dry Potting Soil Won’t Take Up Water. What Do I Do?

“What should I do when potting soil becomes water repellent, and I don’t have anything big enough to dunk my pots in?” Question from Ethan the Rosarian

Answer: It is very frustrating when potting soil gets so dry that it resists taking up water. We add natural & organic wetting agents to our soils to discourage this from happening, but it can still be a problem if the soil becomes completely parched. Thankfully, there is one method that will consistently rewet super dry potting soil; wetting and mixing it with very warm or hot water and then hand turning and mixing it (be sure to wear water-impermeable gloves). The heat helps the peat and compost easily take up water again. It is the most effective way to get super dry potting soil to fully imbibe water again. Just be sure to let it cool before planting.

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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