The Importance of Water in Plants and What to Consider

In this article we will focus on the importance of water in plants. From understanding how water acts as a carrier of nutrients between the soil and the plant to the functioning of plant cells as a transport system. We will also explore topics such as nutrient transport, leaf hydration, and the intricate dynamics of xylem and plant tissue. Get ready to dive right into the fascinating world of plant science.

Watering a young tomato plant.
Watering a young tomato plant.

How do plants use water?

Water gives life to everything, and especially when it comes to gardening. We are all aware of the science behind photosynthesis, and how plants need to convert light into sugar for the roots, but what about how plants use water? If you are watering plants, trees, or a vegetable patch, using irrigation or keeping it simple with a garden hose, then knowing everything you can about water will give you an advantage when it comes to your next grow. In the same way that humans sweat to cool down during hot days, plants are the same when it comes to water evaporating out of the leaf tissue.

This phenomenon is known as guttation. It occurs when the plant is in conditions that favour rapid absorption of water and minerals and minimal transpiration.
This phenomenon is known as guttation. It occurs when the plant is in conditions that favour rapid absorption of water and minerals and minimal transpiration.

Via a process called transpiration, water passes through the leaf and enters the atmosphere, and as a result the roots will compensate by pulling up more water from the soil and root zone. Water will also carry nutrients stored in the soil and growing medium, back to the plant tissue and plays a vital role in the transportation of nutrients and trace elements. This is done through the vascular tissue which transports micro and macro nutrients to the rest of the plant such as stems, leaves, and flowering sites.

● Water moves through from the root cells to plant cells and surrounding veins.
● As water evaporates due to the environment. It passes out of the leaf cells.
● Leaves and foliage are kept from overheating due to transpiration and evaporation.
● Foliar feeding plants is an excellent way to keep leaves shiny and healthy.


The role of vascular tissues and nutrient transport

The transport system within a plant starts at the root hair and works its way up to the leaves. Two vascular tissues are the responsible of transport of water, inorganic and organic substances: the xylem and the phloem. During the different stages of a plant’s life cycle, there will be a demand for different nutrients and trace elements, which is dictated by the vegetative growth period or during bloom.

The xylem is responsible for transport water and soluble mineral nutrients from the roots to the rest of the plant.

 

The phloem mainly transports substances resulting from photosynthetic activity.


● The transport system starts at the root hairs and then connects to the main stem and rest of the plant.

 

● Water is then evaporated out of the leaf and the process of transpiration is repeated over again.

Representation of xylem and phloem and their main characteristics.
Representation of xylem and phloem and their main characteristics.

When is the best time to water a plant as a gardener?

As a gardener, watering your garden should be practical and not take too much time and effort. There are, of course, many ways to water your plants, flower beds, lawn, and grass, with some plants and areas of the garden demanding more water and nutrients than others.

 

The best time to water your plants is when the soil is close to dry, airy, and lightweight when lifting a pot, or when you notice, the plants are beginning to wilt. This can mean that smaller sized plants such as succulents, cactus, herbs, and houseplants will need more attention than larger sized pots capable of drinking a large volume of water.

 

Hand watering: The old school way of keeping plants well saturated. Ideal for small sized gardens, patios, terraces, and small sized flower beds. For a larger sized garden, you may want to consider a hose pipe sprinkler or irrigation.

 

Hose pipe: Watering plants using a hose pipe and ensuring everything has a good spray and soaking, is one of the most practical and convenient ways to water the garden without straining yourself too much.

 

Irrigation system: Dripper systems or sprinkler systems are an excellent way to consistently water plants and trees, without relying on a person to hand water. Perfect for large sized gardens, fruits and vegetable production and keeping the water use minimal.

 

Collecting rainwater: For those who live in the countryside and are treated to a generous amount of rainfall, then collecting and storing filtered rainwater for later use is environmentally friendly and will save you having to source clean water.

Collecting rainwater can be as easy as leaving a container outside when the likelihood of rain is high.
Collecting rainwater can be as easy as leaving a container outside when the likelihood of rain is high.

If you want to delve deeper into this topic, you will surely enjoy reading our blog on how water your plants, full of useful tips and tricks.

 

The different types of water for gardening

Depending on where you live, will determine if the water you have access to for gardening is soft or hard water. We all need water and regardless of if you are watering houseplants, or keeping avocado trees well topped up, the quality of your water can play a big role in the outcome of your crop and overall plant health.

 

Hard water

This refers to water that contains high amounts of residue salts of calcium and magnesium, in the form of sulfates, chlorides and bicarbonates. This type of water will have a high electric conductivity and have a metallic taste when drinking.

 

Soft water

With low levels of calcium, magnesium and iron, soft water is the preferred water source for drinking and gardening. The best example of soft water is bottled water and, when used for making a nutrient solution, will start with a low E.C level.

 

Reverse osmosis water

R/O water is made using a pump to filter out all the minerals out of water. A great way to clean up hard water, contaminated or well water. The process to produce reverse osmosis water can be slow and keeping a constant supply can be difficult. Overall, the cleanest form of water in the sense that the E.C level is base zero.

 

Conclusion

Gardening should be a fun, easy to do and highly rewarding process. As long as you have sunlight, oxygen, water, nutrients and a good growing medium then you cannot really go wrong. Plants are incredibly complex and able to adapt to all types of environments and threats. Try and be as economical as possible when watering your plants and try watering early morning and later in the evening to make the most out of your water supply!

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