There is no doubt about it – water is one of the biggest lift forces on this planet. As humans, we are 60% water, and without a proper supply of water we will become very ill, and with no water we can die within days. But while water is very, very important for us, it’s absolutely critical for plants. Most people will significantly underestimate the importance of water for their garden, but as water makes up 85-95% of the weight of living plants, it should be the most important thing on your list. Today, we want to explain why that is, and why you’re probably underwatering your garden.
Three Key Functions
As we’ve mentioned, water is the lifeblood of all plants. This is because it’s key to three critical functions of their development:
- Photosynthesis. This is the process that enables plants to manufacture their own food – and something you probably haven’t heard about since GCSE science class. To give you a refresher – plants use water to manufacture carbohydrates, which are essential for supplying energy to the plant. If they don’t get enough water, then plants will not be able to produce enough food for healthy growth and will eventually starve.
- Transpiration. This is the plant version is sweating. Plants lose water into the atmosphere through their leaves by a process called transportation, much like the human ‘perspiration’, or losing water through the pores via sweat. Water is usually lose through tiny holes on the leaves called stomata (just like our pores). As water evaporates through these holes, it causes a cooling effect around the plant to help keep their temperature balanced. If the plant is dehydrated then this process can’t happen, then the plant will overheat and its cells will start dying.
- Nutrient Distribution. Just like all living things, plants require a variety of nutrients to grow and develop their structure – stems, leaves, flowers, seeds. Like blood in animals and humans, water helps transport nutrients up from the soil and into the plants cells structure, fuelling growth.
These three functions are essential to life for plants, which is why it’s essential for you to give your garden enough water every day.
The Fine Balance
Of course, there is a fine balance between too much and too little water for your garden. Too much and you get soggy roots, which leads to plants becoming oxygen starved and dying. Too little, and plants can just stop growing, wilt and eventually die. Of course, a lot of water for an aquatic plant isn’t going to be much of an issue – just like very little water for a cactus won’t really cause problems. But these are extreme examples, and if you want a healthy garden full of perennials, shrubs and flowers, you need to get the balance right.
A good rule of thumb is that ornamental gardens (flowers, shrubs, perennials etc) need around one inch of water per week. This assumes that your soil is healthy and your climate is standard for Britain. You may need to adjust this depending on the time of year – for example during the winter months rain and dew will provide a lot of the water for you in Britain, while in the summer months and heatwaves you may need to add more water to compensate for quick evaporation.
How To Water
In general., one good soaking is better for your garden than several shallow waters. This is because a good soaking encourages roots to grow nice and deep, rather than staying closer to the surface where they can grab their next frantic sip of water. Water that goes deep into the soil can endure longer than the water on the surface, which dries up and evaporated in the sun.
At JB Landscaping, we do more than just gardening. We make it our mission to understand how to care for your plants, including what they need to survive and thrive. We are always happy to give advice on garden maintenance, especially when it comes to keeping your plant life looking green and lush. If you’re struggling with keeping plants alive, we would love to help. Just get in touch with the team today.