I've been told if I put a pinch of dry laundry detergent in a gallon
in water and then use that solution the very first time I water my
newly-transferred plants, the potting soil was absorb water better.
Is this true?
Will my plants be harmed in any way?
Adding soap to water reduces the surface tension of the water and allows it
to be absorbed by the soil easier. This would be more useful in your lawn
or garden area that has been so compacted by rain and being walked on, that
the water runs off, rather than being absorbed.
Depending on where your are and the type of soil you have, you would see
some benefit from doing this 2 or 3 times a year.
Maybe. The only real way to tell is to experiment. Different surfactants
in different concentrations affect different species differently. (How's
that for a sentence?) Long way of saying, no way to know ahead of time.
I've used a drop of baby shampoo in a quart of water when I have to
wet homemade potting soil that's very dry and has to be done ASAP.
I prefer to either dump very hot water in the container an hour or so
before planting and knead the soil (wait till the soil is at room temp
before potting) or soak the potted plant in a bucket of water nearly up to the
pot rim until the surface soil is moist. Then remove the pots and allow
them to drain completely.
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