The importance of watering plants
The water molecule is made up of two hydrogen and one oxygen atom. Water is the lifeline for photosynthesis in plants. The separation of the water molecules produced two electrons which are the key that starts the photosynthesis process. In simple terms, even when the other requirements are present at their optimum condition i.e. light and nutrients, without water the process of photosynthesis will be halted. Plants continue to lose water through transpiration and evaporation, but photosynthesis is disrupted with the lack of water.
When water is lacking, plants will use long-term storage of starch to build energy through respiration. If water is not replenished, the conversion of starch into energy exceeds the production of starch therefore making the plants become weak, the leaves wilt and this has become the early indicator that the plant needs watering. However, the plant displays the same characteristics when it is over watered. Waterlogging occurs when the soil is too wet making it difficult to absorb gasses and also causes root rot, making them weak and more susceptible to soil borne diseases. A severe case of having insufficient water is when the plants begin to drop their leaves. The abscisic acid hormone is the main regulator of drought stress response, sending signals to abscisic regions to drop all leaves in order to reduce water loss. This hormone is also responsible for bud and shoot dormancy, so all growth is slowed down until water is available again.
With summer coming, it is best to prepare early to ensure the plants in your garden will have enough water in the coming weeks. If you are using drip or sprinkler irrigation, check that the pipes and drips are not detached, broken, or blocked. Water should be applied directly on the soil, as the roots are the main plant organs that absorb water and nutrients. Applying above the foliage is less efficient because the foliage will obstruct water reaching the ground. Leaves are able to absorb some water through leaf pores (stomata) but mainly from the lower leaf surface because this is where the leaf pores are mainly located.
The basics of watering:
- In summer, watering should be done early in the morning, or later in the afternoon to avoid the hot midday sun. Hot sun will causes leaf to scar with scorch marks when leaves are wet making them looking unattractive.
- Watering in cold temperature is still a must. Water acts as an insulator that keeps the plant cell plump and stronger against frost damage. Also, it is required for photosynthesis.
- Opt for drought resistance varieties if this is an option, having drought resistance varieties can reduce water usage in the gardens.
- Invest in irrigation such as sprinklers, drip or opt for fertigation.
- With limited garden space, creating a small garden can be achieved by fertigation, hydroponic, vertical farming scheme, using hydro pots or just sticking to the conventional way. Opting for the non-conventional techniques can be costly to set up but it does ensure optimum usage of water in long term. It also put aside the worry of watering when you leave them over a long period of time.
- Mulching reduces water loss from the soil surfaces and a plus side in avoiding weed germination, reduce UV damages to soil microorganisms and protects the integrity of the soil/planting media structure. It also protects the surface root systems that are responsible for the main absorption of water and nutrients.
- Consider creating a water catchment area within the garden especially when hosepipe ban is a common practice in the county. Collecting and storing rain water is a way to conserve water usage, and also beneficial to alkaline water loving plants.