Watering your plants is the most important aspect of growing, the watering practices you use make a big difference in plant development. Watering too frequently or not enough are the most common mistakes however not using enough water will lead to weak roots and an inefficient system.
When watering your plants, it is important that all of the soil within the pot is moist, this is done by watering until you see excess coming out of the drainage holes. By watering this way, you ensure that roots can grow in every part of your pot, deep down and spread out. This creates a strong root system, one that will help your plants thrive and grow well.
Why are strong roots important?
The roots of a plant are what gives it life, they are the plant’s source of water and nutrients but they also anchor the plant to the ground and provide it with the stability needed to grow. A strong root system is comprised of two factors, how far the roots spread and how well they absorb moisture. To grow a healthy plant, both of these requirements must be met.
Why is it important that a plant’s roots spread out?
A plant with deep, well spread out roots will be able to survive much better through difficult times. This is because roots that are spread deep and wide will have greater access to moisture, not just what is a few inches below the surface but the moisture deep down in the pot. In times of drought (maybe you’re on a holiday or forgot to water), high temperatures or low humidity, a plant with a well established root system will be able to provide for the rest of the plant for a longer period of time as it has this greater reach. This is incredibly important to develop so that your plant wont die or become damaged by some neglect or tough conditions.
Roots provide more than just water to your plant though, they also absorb nutrients from the soil, whether it be organic or from fertilizer. If your root system is only a couple of inches deep, the plant is missing out on most of the important nutrients that will help it flourish. By encouraging your plant’s roots to grow deep and wide throughout it’s pot, you’ll be giving it more opportunity to feed and grow.
Why is it important that a plant’s roots can absorb water efficiently?
Plants need water, that is a fact which we all know. Something people neglect when growing is how their plants get this water. It is a very common mistake for new and experienced growers to water shallowly and frequently. Sure, you might be giving your plant plenty of water, you’re actually doing more damage than good though as this will create inefficient roots.
Inefficient roots will take the water that is offered frequently, they never have to work hard for this though and that means if they don’t receive water as frequently in the future they may not be able to provide for the rest of the plant as well as one with efficient roots could.
You know how you’re always told not to feed wildlife? This is because they become dependent and lose skills necessary to find their own food. The same principle applies here. If you’re always watering frequently, the roots are getting used to this abundance of water, so if it were to go away for whatever reason, they’ll find it more difficult to survive.
As mentioned before, roots also absorb nutrients for your plants, so if those nutrients become scarce, your roots wont be able to absorb what is available. Also when you add fertilizer, a lot of it will go to waste as it is simply not absorbed.
Why is shallow watering bad for your plant?
Shallow watering is detrimental to your plant’s root development as it doesn’t encourage strong root growth deep down into the pot. If water is only available on the top few inches of soil, why should your plant’s roots grow deep down? There is no water down there so there is no point. By not using enough water you’re handcuffing your plant to just a few inches of soil.
This may not be an immediate problem, your plant will still grow, maybe at a slower pace, but it’ll grow. However if the conditions change and it needs more water, the root system that has grown wont be able to provide enough for it to thrive.
If your plant is attacked by pests or disease, it will also be less prepared to fight it as it doesn’t have a great foundation. Everything starts from the roots and it it important that you help them to grow deep and strong.
Why is frequent watering bad for your plant?
Frequent watering can lead to overwatering which is bad in and of itself but it can also stunt the development of your plant’s roots. This happens because the plant doesn’t need to work for the water because it is frequently provided and it doesn’t grow strong, hard working roots.
A plant that is watered frequently will develop roots that can grow deep but not often wide. These roots don’t spread out and they’re not efficient in absorption of water and nutrients.
What is the best way to water plants to encourage strong root growth?
The absolute best way to water your houseplants is to wet them all the way through, this is done by watering them until you see excess water coming out of the drainage holes.
This is most commonly done by moving the pot into a sink or bathtub and turning the tap on until you see the excess drainage. This will provide plenty of water, and encourage the roots to grow deep down into the pot to access this water. Furthermore because you’ll be using enough water, this means that you wont need to water as frequently, saving you time. In fact it is important that you water it less.
By not watering your plants every 3 days or so, you’ll be training the roots to find more water in the pot. This makes them grow outwards and work more efficiently, this is what grows strong roots, this process of watering heavily, and once every week or less (depending on your plants requirements) will grow the strongest roots possible and give your plants the best chance to thrive.
Why is it so important that plants grow strong roots?
Obviously you’re going to want your plant to be as strong as possible, it would be silly not to. Strong roots are important for two reasons. The first is that it’ll make your plant look better and grow more. If your plant has the best baseline to start from, new growth will come around more often, it will produce more vibrant colours and be the stunning showpiece you want it to be.
The other reason why strong roots are so important for your plants is that they will help your plants fight through tough conditions, pests attacking it or diseases which may cause damage. As mentioned before, everything starts from the roots, so if you have a good foundation, everything else will be able to fall into place easier. If any of these threats come around and effect your plant, it will be much better prepared if it has a strong root system to help fight.
How do you fix a plant that has a poor root system?
If you have a plant with a poor root system, whether it be shallow roots or inefficient roots, it is easy to fix the issue. All you need to do is change the watering practices that you use. By using the guide given in this article, you’ll be able to help your plant to grow stronger roots and fix the poor root system it has developed already.
So now you know how important your roots are and that the watering practices you use are a big key. They can make a huge difference in the development of your root system.
Take care of your plant’s roots and it’ll reward your with wonderful, vibrant colours and beautiful displays for years to come.