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Some of My Gritty Mix Containers are Wet on Top and Bone Dry on Bottom

westes Zone 9b California SF Bay
2 years ago
last modified: 2 years ago

It has been raining here about two weeks, and I just had a very bizarre thing shown to me by an irrigation contractor. In many of my pots with gritty mix, the top two inches of the container soil are wet, but below about two to three inches the soil is bone dry. At first I thought that this might be some problem with root density, but then I went to an empty pot and the same problem was there. The soil was wet on top and dry on the bottom.

I had a very weird situation with my best aeonium planting where they all started to bend over on the stems at the *top* of the plant. Now that I understand this soil problem, it looks to me like these plants were actually starving for water in spite of being on an automatic irrigation system. The roots of those plants were actually bone dry, probably for many months in high heat.

How is this even possible? What is it about gritty mix or watering that I do not understand? I don't understand how the pots can be taking light rain for weeks and the water is not draining through the pot. I also believed that water density should increase as you go deeper into a recently watered pot. It looks like maybe the rain never fell with enough volume to actually penetrate the soil deeply?

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