Plant Water Requirements

How much water does a plant need? That depends upon the plant, the climate, and the rate of transpiration. Transpiration is the passage of water as a vapor from the leaf to the atmosphere. Water molecules move from areas of higher concentration to areas of lower concentration. High temperatures, low humidity, and wind can increase the rate of transpiration because they remove water from the air. If there is less water in the air than in the plant leaf, water will move from the plant into the air.

Plants that do not receive adequate water intake through the roots during times of increased transpiration may wilt, and if the conditions persist, they will die. The amount of water required varies among species that have evolved in climates with different amounts of rainfall. Plants that are native to arid and semiarid regions have modified leaves and stems that conserve water and reduce transpiration. These plants are sometimes referred to as drought tolerant or xeric.

Plants that are native to tropical regions with warm, moist air tend to have broad leaves that shed water and may transpire at a higher rate than xeric plants when exposed to hot, dry weather. High transpiration combined with evaporation dries out the soil. Plant water requirements are often listed as low, moderate, or high, with xeric plants at the low end and tropical plants at the high end. Plants with shallow lateral roots are usually not drought tolerant and require more frequent water than plants with deep taproots, which will do well even if the soil dries out between watering.

transported in water. It is important to avoid working in a wet garden, as this can spread microbial diseases that are in water droplets. The spores can become attached to your shoes, gloves, or tools and cause you to infect other plants. It is not a good idea to transfer garden tools from one place to another unless they are sterilized between uses, as residue left on tools can spread microbial diseases. Wet soil can also be easily compacted by footsteps or heavy machinery, which makes it harder for plants to grow.

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