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See here for question about what I should have done at the time: What to do (immediately) with a waterlogged pot plant?

TL;DR

What should I do now, given that I suspect that I've created a plant pot that drains poorly?


I recently repotted a bunch of house plants (Edit: 2 pelargoniums & some mint) into larger pots, with new compost.

I mixed into the compost some water-retention crystals - the kind that absorb loads of water and can then release that water gradually. I did this because I struggle with under-watering the plants and was hoping that this would result in the dampness of the soil being more stable over time.

A) If this was a terrible idea from the get-go let me know :)

Perhaps I mis-judged the amount of crystals, or perhaps it was an error to soak the crystal-enhanced pots like I do for the rest of my plants, but the upshot was that the pots became extremely wet for a long period - I would say waterlogged.

There was water seeping out of the pot into the saucer for 2-3 days (which I would regularly empty), and the surface of the soil was definitely wet to the touch. I then didn't water the pot for a week and a half, and left the plant outside on a South-East facing balcony for a very hot(23-27 degrees) and sunny week. and by the end of that week and a half, the soil is still not particularly dry (although it is at least not actively WET now).

I perceive that the plants definitely suffered from this - several (though not all) of the leaves very suddenly went extremely pale and then died, other leaves have gained a pale halo around their edge, and for the 3-4 days after I did this, the plants appeared to wilt (as though I'd UNDER-watered them) though it has now recovered.

I have multiple questions, so the above set up has been duplicated on multiple posts, but my question here is ...


The leaf-death appears to have stopped now (I've removed the dying/dead leaves and the rest seem OK), and at least one of the plants looks reasonably healthy now (it's opened up new flower heads)

This makes me wonder whether I should just leave it as it is, and be careful not to over water it in future.

B) What should I have do now, given that I'm in this situation?

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Sounds like you overloaded on the water retaining gel. There's only one thing to do, and that is, unpot your plants, remove the excess potting soil and gel, and repot without using the gel. And water when they need it, not just when you remember.

Water retaining gels and crystals are really intended for use in things like hanging baskets or wall mangers in full sun outdoors during the summer months, not for houseplants. You've not mentioned which plants they are though, other than the generic term 'houseplant' and I'm curious, because the majority of true houseplants would not respond well to being left outdoors in full sun without acclimatization first.

UPDATE: in response to your query under comments. The term 'houseplant', whilst obviously meaning any plant in the house, has a specific meaning as well - it's usually plants that will not survive or do well outdoors where you live, though they may in other regions of the world, or plants which are very adaptable and happy to live indoors. Pelargoniums, whilst often grown indoors in places like the UK during winter, but can be grown outdoors all summer, do much better outdoors and in sun,so they're not technically a houseplant. They're also pretty drought resistant and prefer free draining soil (that does not mean they don't need watering regularly, especially in full sun though) so using water retaining gel for those isn't a great idea UNLESS they're one of the components in a hanging basket which might also include, say, fuchsia, impatiens, lobelia and the like.

  • The two plants that appeared to suffer, and were put outside were pelargoniums – Brondahl May 29 '17 at 12:41
  • See also the "what are these marks" question :) – Brondahl May 29 '17 at 12:42
  • I've been using the term "houseplant" to mean "a plant which I have in my house". Do I deduce that this is an incorrect usage? – Brondahl May 29 '17 at 12:44
  • See updated answer.... – Bamboo May 29 '17 at 14:38

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