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Plants and Water - A Brief Look at How Water Affects Plant Growth

It probably seems like common sense. Plants need water to survive, grow and reproduce or bear fruit. What may seem simple is more complex than you might imagine. Here's a brief look at the importance of water to plant life.

Why Plants Need Water

Water is one of the primary elements required by plants. When you think of gardening, you generally think of water, soil and sunlight. Plants can suffer when any of these are compromised.

The importance of water to your plants goes beyond merely keeping them alive. Water is also a necessary element to help plants thrive. Water is what allows for the uptake of vital nutrients from the soil. It is also water that helps to carry sugar and other elements that may be required by flowers or fruit.

A good comparison can be made here with the human body. When we become dehydrated, our blood thickens and has a more difficult time being pumped to and through various organs. A lack of water can cause us to become weak. Prolonged dehydration can also cause organ failure.

Plants are not that different. A plant needs water so that it can remain upright. Without the proper amount of water, a plant can droop. It may not be able to support its own weight. Water for plants is critical.

How the Amount of Water Affects Plant Growth

Different species of plants require different amounts of water. The amount of water given to plants can also affect plant health.

Overwatering is a common problem for many home gardeners. Adding too much water to the soil can result in root rot. Water that remains on the leaves of a plant can also cause issues such as mold. When the soil is too damp around the base of your plants, the roots will have difficulty absorbing the oxygen that they need to survive.

In contrast, too little water will make it impossible for plants to absorb the nutrients they need. Roots can become brittle and damaged. There will come a point when the lack of water pushes a plant beyond recovery.

How do you manage the proper watering amount? The simple answer is to know your plant, climate, soil and terrain. These factors all play a role in how much water your plants will require.

Is the Quality of Water Important to Plants?

According to the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension program, water quality can have an impact on plant health.

Rainwater, tap water and distilled water can all vary in the amount of salts, nutrients and other elements they contain. These, in turn, can have an impact on the pH level of garden soil. The pH refers to the alkalinity of soil. A perfect balance is needed to grow the healthiest plants.

Most home gardeners will use a mix of tap water and rainwater to keep their garden in optimum health. You may want to check with your local water source to obtain copies of regular testing. These reports will detail all the elements that are found in your local water.

An occasional pH test, especially prior to the gardening season, is also useful. At the end of the day, strive to use the cleanest water that you can for your plants. At the first sign of ill health, try and determine if water quality is a problem.

Water for plants is something that many of us take for granted. It doesn't typically get a lot of thought until a problem develops. You should aim to take a more proactive approach to using water in your garden.

As a final thought, efficiency in watering can solve many of the issues we have discussed. You should consider equipment such as soaker hoses for better irrigation. Know your garden, know your plants and know the best practices for success.


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