Subirrigation with House Plants (Plant Care Tips)

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Subirrigation with House Plants

Should You Consider Using Sub-Irrigation

One of the biggest areas people have problems in caring for their house plants is with – watering. Usually it’s too much.

One method called SUB-IRRIGATION, which can help take a lot of guesswork out of watering.

Many interior plant professionals (plantscapers) use subirrigation as their preferred method of watering. They find watering plants from the bottom, easier and quicker than top watering. This can also improve plant quality and plant health by spending more time on the plant and its physical maintenance, such as grooming the plant, cleaning leaves, etc. instead of watering.

Typically when you water from the top the root ball can undergo quite a bit of stress. The wetting and drying can break down soil media. Using subirrigation can help stop these intermittent drought and/or flood conditions. The root ball is kept constantly moist (MOIST not WET). The roots remain healthy because the pores in the soil are still holding oxygen.

Some, plantscapers choose subirrigation systems for many reasons such as:

  • Training new employees on watering is quicker
  • Less time is spent in watering
  • More time spent on grooming plants
  • More time for “scouting” looking for pests
  • Longer intervals between watering (usually)
  • Less plant stress
  • Easier to water plants that do not have easy access
  • Seasonal plants often hold their blooms longer
  • Less opportunity for spills on rugs and furniture
  • Measured amount of water.

There are quite a few subirrigation pots on the market. Pots for planter beds and freestanding containers.

How it works

Water is added to a reservoir; the plant pulls moisture upward through the entire root ball through capillary action, like a sponge. The amount and evenness of the water movement from the subirrigation reservoir to the growing medium depends on the growing medium mix and its degree of compaction and/or breakdown.

Monitoring Your Water

Remember this – Subirrigation Systems can Fail

You must monitor the moisture level of the growing medium. Make sure that you check at least 2 inches below the soil line. It isn’t uncommon for the top 1 inch of medium to feel dry and below that it is moist. It can be easy to assume that the plant needs more water, when it doesn’t.

There are many systems on the market, and each one has their pluses and minuses. If you convert over to subirrigation it will take some time for your plants to acclimate to this system, but it is worth it.

It can give you more time to enjoy your plants and less time carrying water.

Sponsored by- Indoor House Plant Secrets

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.