Hydrophobic soil is soil that has a very low water-holding capacity. It has a waxy coating on its surface that repels water, making it difficult for water and nutrients to penetrate and be absorbed.
This can have a significant impact on plant growth, as it reduces the availability of water and nutrients to the plant, as well as reducing the oxygen content of the soil.
To identify hydrophobic soil, there are several signs to look for. The most obvious is a dry, crumbly soil surface. Additionally, a layer of water will bead up on the surface of the soil instead of soaking in. The soil will also be difficult to work with and have a greasy feel.
If the soil has a high organic matter content, this can help to reduce the effects of hydrophobicity, but it may also be necessary to introduce amendments such as gypsum to break down the waxy coating.
Your overall best solution is repotting your plant baby in a chunky airy soil mix.