How to Revive dried out Potted Plants.

This is probably one of the most important plant revival hacks to know. If you, like me, just cannot resist rescuing dried out herb or vegetable plants from the supermarket. I found a few the other day that were in pots so dry it was practically rocklike and grey. The potting mix had shrivelled up, pulling away from the side of the pot.

Poor wee basil – my favorite herb. Basil just smells like summer don’t you think? This is one I saved from dying of dehydration. It just needed a good drink, a good drain and a good home.

Basil in Glasshouse.

I learnt this hack at Massey University years and years ago (when a hack was a nasty dry cough, a miserable old horse or a butchers preference for stew meat) and it has never let me down.

This plant revival hack will work for pot plants too. But generally I use it for vegetables or herbs before planting out in the kitchen’s gardens.

How to revive dried out plants before planting

This process will work for indoor pot plants plus rescued vegetable or herb plants in pots or cells.

  • Snip off dead foliage.
  • Nip out the growing tips. (This step is for anything that will grow into a bush: basil, rosemary, lavender, capsicum, aubergine, etc).
  • Fill a bucket with cold water and SUBMERGE the whole pot in the water.The whole pot soil and all needs to go underwater (not the plant). Hold it under there letting the water flow right over the top of the pot. Air will begin to bubble out.
  • Put your fingers on either side of the plant so it does not simply float up out of the pot – which has been known to happen. Give that baby a good drink. The potting mix should release a lot of bubbly air. Hold that pot under the water until it stops bubbling. This can take up to 30 seconds or more depending on the level of neglect.
  • Drain well. Don’t leave the pot sitting in water.
  • Set in a shady spot for a few hours then submerge again and watch again for bubbles. If there are no bubbles then your job is done. Set back in light shade and water twice daily depending on the weather. Allow some gentle misty water spray to hit the plants leaves when you are watering from above (as long as they are in the shade – we don’t want sunburn) – plants will absorb some water through their leaves as well.

Do not plant into full sun just yet, a few days in dappled shade will harden the plant off.

Much of the cheap modern potting mixes are virtually impossible to re-wet when watering from above. Pouring water into the pot is a waste of water as it will just run around the dried up media and out the bottom.

Submerge the whole pot in water and watch the magic!

Soak the plant thoroughly again before planting.

And remember good drainage is just as important as a good watering. Do not let the plant dry out again. Nor let it sit in standing water.


This happy little rabbit will help you eat up any veges that cannot be revived.

Rabbit in out door two storied rabbit hutch.

It defeats me how the people who work in these big box stores cannot just water those plants!

Calf in old barn. Calf is angus cross, black with white blaze on his head.

As a bonus hack if you have chicks who are overheated put their feet in cold water. This will revive them too!

The Kitchen’s Garden

Straw covered kitchens garden

The straw garden has begun. The straw needs to be deep, a good 6 inches deep to suppress weeds and keep the ground underneath moist in the hot summer that I am expecting. Luckily I still have straw. Because we should never leave soil uncovered.

First I mow as low as the blade can go.

Wet the soil, then lay the straw, then wet the straw.

I will tell you more about that tomorrow because there is rain in the forecast and I want to get the field tomatoes planted on the off chance that we get a good soaking of rain. Plus I did not get down to the asparagus yesterday evening to check for new shoots. So I had better get busy.

Then I hope to get back back into the glasshouse to sow more vegetable seeds. I need a rotation of plants going into the gardens every two weeks. The growing season is already short. And you know how I love my veges!


Very cloudy here today and the possibility of rain coming in later this afternoon.

Weather May 6 2023

Have a great weekend day!

The clouds are thickening – time for me to get outside and get busy!

See you shortly in the Lounge of Comments.

PS Substack:

Media Asset for The Kitchens garden Podcast - Episode Two

Join me for podcasts and story telling here. This is my experimental space – where things can get fun – off brand – and unpredictable.

The Podcasts are FREE for the month of May. The Monday story will always be FREE.

I am writing a totally different kind of story for this Monday and the podcasts are great to listen to when doing your weekend chores , In the TKG podcasts I am reading and chatting about some of my favourite early blog posts.

I am really enjoying SubStack as a space to stretch both my writing and my voice. I am so grateful to have you along for that journey too.

Don’t forget to comment. I will always answer a comment. I love that side of engagement.

27 Comments on “How to Revive dried out Potted Plants.

  1. All my rescued plants are so far doing very well! It is a pity they still try to sell these dried up offers at full price at this time of year. Do not be afraid to haggle!

    • Yes. It will suppress weeds – though this is an old garden and not very weedy. Mostly it will keep the moisture in which I think is going to be important this year. Especially as I am away fro 6 weeks over the summer. Plus hopefully keep the tomatoes from hitting the dirt as I am not staking them.

  2. Such a great tip, thank you! I potted three new small indoor plants recently using mix from the nursery- not my usual choice. It was very dry to start so I watered it deeply before planting the new items. I hope I was not duped into a poor mix. The plants seem alright but now I have my eyes open and will dunk them if needed.

  3. I’ve been doing this for several years with both annual and perennial flowers. For the past three years, I plant only bee, bird, and butterfly friendly (native to my area) plants.

    • That is THE BEST!! I am always thrilled when I hear someone is planting natives. Plus growing something that likes your environment is SO much easier. Great to hear from you Sandy.

  4. That’s a good tip, especially with basil which can be quite delicate.
    I just did a Coronation lunch for 15 people with my next door neighbour. Lots of home made quiche, cakes and sandwiches.

  5. I have tried this on a sad hydrangea I got from a store, I forgot I’d put it into a water trough so there was quite a few days before it cam back out. I was fine!!

  6. I have learned that the Big Box stores do not teach watering. The employees often haven’t had experience with watering plants. They think a quick pass-over with a hose on spray-mode suffices. I have to teach our interns how to properly water our exhibit and greenhouse plants, otherwise the plant life is nothing but a dried-up husk.

    I quit rescuing from the big box stores when I came home with mealy bugs, though.

  7. YES!!!! I love to get the barley alive marked downs; bring them home. Revive them and BAM! I have more plants for less!

  8. The trouble is, a lot of these plants are potted in some dreadful perlite mix that bulks out the soil without any advantage to the plant, so the stuff simply won’t hold water anyway. The sooner you can soak and then get its feet into something tasty and nutritious, the better, since they’re bound to be hungry as well as thirsty.

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