When we are not very familiar with plants, we think that the most important thing is to maintain abundant and regular watering for all plants. But not all plants have the same needs. Underwatering and overwatering are the most common reasons why our plants start to decline, turn yellow and then die.
How water works in plants
To begin with, let's briefly discuss how the effect of watering works on your plants. Then you will know why water is so important for your plants.
To begin with, during the plant's water cycle, moisture is absorbed through the roots by osmosis. It is then transported upwards through the stem to the leaves.
However, approximately 90% of this water is lost through transpiration. Transpiration is the process by which water vapour is released through the stomata, which are the small pores on the underside of the leaves that allow gas exchange and water evaporation.
This transpiration regulates the temperature of the plant and helps to extract water and nutrients from the soil. As a plant absorbs water, turgor pressure builds up inside the plant's cells, allowing the plant to remain stable and rigid. Sunlight, heat and high humidity increase the rate of transpiration. If soil moisture is not replaced by irrigation, the plant loses turgor and wilts.
The watering needs of each plant
Plants require varying amounts of water, depending on their species and growing conditions. In addition, young plants need more water than older plants, which have already developed their roots.
To know if you are watering your plant in the right measure, in addition to monitoring rainfall in the case of outdoor plants and controlling the amount of water you supply through irrigation, you need to observe them carefully. Because plants also provide physical signals if they are running low on water.
Signs that my plants are suffering from lack of watering
Stressed and unproductive plants
If a plant does not have enough water to grow properly, we get "stressed" plants. Yes, like when we are overworked, tired and therefore unproductive! Drought often shows a decrease in production in fruit trees, for example, or in plants that produce vegetables. That is, with the lack of irrigation fruits and vegetables produce less crops, which affects their overall yield during the growing season. In addition, flowering plants, trees and shrubs grow fewer buds, resulting in fewer flowers. However, there is often still time to redeem our lapses! By increasing watering during the growing season, the plant can recover and increase its production.
Changes in the leaves
The leaves of the plant often show the first signs of a lack of water. They often start to wilt or fall off due to lack of moisture. The blades of grass, for example, wilt and do not rise again when you step on them. You may also notice that the shiny leaves of plants become dull. Over time, the wilting becomes more pronounced and sometimes permanent.
On the other hand, leaves and stems may start to yellow or turn brown from prolonged lack of water. Some plants with "drought stress" may also start to change to accumulate dryness along the edges of the leaves.
Long periods without watering: irremediable consequences
Prolonged periods without sufficient water can cause more serious damage to our plants. That is, instead of simply wilting, the leaves eventually begin to die and fall off the plant. In addition, the stem becomes more susceptible to insect and disease damage.
Lack of irrigation can quickly turn plants into wilted and unhealthy vegetation. The severity of the damage depends on several factors, including the duration of the lack of watering, soil conditions and plant species. While a plant may recover from moisture loss in the short term, persistent lack of water often results in long-term damage, including stunting, weakness and dieback.
Plants that do not receive sufficient water show a slowdown in growth, but when watering is resumed, the plant is likely to resume growth as well. Long-term lack of watering can cause your plant to stop growing altogether or the leaves to grow smaller than usual. In trees and shrubs, some branches may die or fall off.
Lack of watering kills photosynthesis
On hot afternoons, plants may wilt temporarily but revive again in the cool of the evening. If, on the other hand, prolonged water deprivation continues, physiological changes occur in the plant, such as loss of water through transpiration. This also reduces the uptake of carbon dioxide and disturbs photosynthesis. As a result, the plant produces fewer carbohydrates, proteins and enzymes, which are necessary for plant growth and resistance to diseases and pests.
Pests and diseases: another consequence of underwatering
Plants weakened by lack of water are more vulnerable to insects, bacteria and fungi. Pests, such as spider mites and beetles, are attracted to dry plants. This, coupled with the fact that weakened plants are less resistant to fungi and bacteria, which are often carried by insect pests, makes a lack of watering a determining factor for a plant. Absorb or be able to fight off nuisance pests.
Prevention and treatment of underwatered plants
Selecting water-stressed plants, particularly native species, is the best way to avoid problems related to dry plants in your garden.
Young or newly planted specimens that have not yet developed strong root systems are particularly vulnerable to underwatering. Thus, they require more water than longer-lived, well-established plants.
Another idea to prevent your plants from drying out is to use mulch. This is an organic fertiliser that enriches the soil to improve its structure. In addition, it adds nutrients to your plants, prevents weed growth and reduces your maintenance work in the garden or vegetable garden.
All you have to do is place a noticeable amount around the base of plants and shrubs and let it sit. This compost will help retain moisture and keep the soil cooler. To this task, add pruning or destroying dead or insect-infested branches to prevent the spread of disease.
holiday mode ON! A danger to your plants
Yes, the long-awaited summer time of leaving your responsibilities behind has arrived, but before you go, make sure you take your plants into account. Since you've taken such good care of them throughout the year, wouldn't it be traumatic to find them wilted when you return from your holiday?
There are quick and lasting solutions to this. Without a doubt, the best bet is automatic watering. Whatever it is, a specific method must be your ally during these days. You can go for the "glass bottle", for example, a method that you can create yourself at home. All you have to do is drill holes in the cap of a bottle with a nail.
To make sure you don't deform the stopper, start by driving the hole from the inside. Then fill the bottle with water and put the cap back on. Finally, dig a hole in the soil of the plant to be watered. Place the bottle on the side of the stopper in the hole you dug and you have a good solution for a long weekend away!
Dedicated to creating an army of cacti, succulents, poodles and cats to help me conquer the world. In the little free time I have left, I play, write and dance.