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Soil Amendments

Q.Hydrogels In Diapers?

Zone Virginia Beach, VA | MorningGlory333 added on April 28, 2022 | Answered

I was told that those tiny balls sold in gardening centers that will expand as water is added will water a plant, but once it gets to dry it will remove the water from the soil back to itself. Is this true? If so, wouldn’t hydrogels be a contradiction or a waste of time? I’d like to know for sure as the diaper idea would be the answer to my houseplants that get dry from the a/c blowing, being under grow lights or fans blowing. Thank you for any advice you can give me.

A.Answers to this queston: Add Answer
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on April 28, 2022

What normally happens is that the soil dries out, and then the water beads slowly release water to the roots, and soil.

I use them in some of my own containers for extended periods away from the house. It can increase the time it takes to draw all of the moisture from the root zone. Just don't overwater. It will take a very long time to dry out from that.

One other thing to note-

Microbes in soil break these and other plastics down faster than most people realize, depending on the type. Sodium polyacrylate will break down into a gel. Soils will get very thick over time. It will be necessary to re-compost this when it happens, and it will be time to change the soil out.

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