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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Moisture Absorbers for Soil in Hanging Baskets and Window Boxes

I wanted to show you a product that I've been using the past couple of years. I've been adding this to soil in hanging baskets in order to reduce the amount of watering needed. There are several brands on the market. I use Soil Moist.

I bought this 3-oz packet a couple of years ago and still have quite a bit left. The packet instructions say to use 1 1/2 teaspoons of granules for a 10-inch diameter basket or equivalent measure for window boxes. You need to mix this into the bottom 2 or 3 inches of soil --  the root zone. This year, I've started fresh with my baskets' soil. I scooped soil into my basket, sprinkled the Soil Moist over it, then mixed it in with my hand before topping with more soil.

Using a moisture retention product doesn't eliminate watering, but it does hold enough moisture that I can water less often. The packet says that their product can cut watering up to 50%.

I wanted to show you just what 1 1/2 teaspoons of this product looks like both dry and wet.

Here is 1  1/2 teaspoons dry granules.

I began adding water and the granules quickly sucked it all up.

So I added more and more water, until I had added just over 1 cup of water to that 1  1/2 teaspoons of Soil Moist. At that point, I quit, as my bowl was getting full. But this is pretty amazing stuff, isn't it? 


  1. That's pretty amazing stuff! Thanks for educating us.

    1. Hi Kris,
      I know, it stunned me how much water a small amount of this stuff was absorbing. And I do think it helps with my hanging baskets and watering.

  2. That looks like the stuff they put in diapers. I wonder how it releases the moisture after it is absorbed? But, I guess, that doesn't matter as long as it works. Thanks for the recommendation. We haven't yet figured out our pots and boxes yet on our new porch, but I will remember soil moist when we do.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      I've thought that, too, about looking like the gel stuff in disposable diapers.
      I'm not sure how it releases the water. It's not like these are little bubbles, more like grains of gelatin that absorb water, then slowly shed that water into the adjacent soil. When I was adding the water to the 1 1/2 tsp, the granules sucked up the water very quickly. Maybe some of the advantage is in "using" almost all of the water that is poured into the basket, instead of some of it pouring through the soil and out the drainage. But I'm just making guesses.

  3. Does the package say if it's a silica product? Just curious about that. A local growing supply place sells bulk silica powder and I've wondered about how well it works. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Cat,
      The website calls it a synthetic polymer (cross-linked). I don't have any experience using silica powder in the garden, so can't say on that. Sorry.

    2. Thanks for the answer. I'll check more into it. I'm not personally great at keeping hanging baskets alive, but with our climate being so hot and dry in summer, have considered adding the silica to our raised beds.

    3. Hmm, that sounds like an interesting idea for your raised beds. I've read of Diatomaceous Earth added to soil slows water evaporation, and DE is somehow related to silica. Do you also use shade screens or fabric over your beds in the heat of summer?


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