22 Jul Science of water
Water is one of the essential building blocks of life. Yet, while water is essential for all living things, it is especially essential for plants, since they use, and consist of, far more water than animals. Human bodies, for example, are a measly 60% water compared with the whopping 90% that constitutes most plants. Furthermore, water is at the heart of many of the essential processes that keep plants alive and well. In this blog, I take a look at three of the crucial roles that water plays in plants and offer a solution for keeping your plants watered with minimal hassle.
The Drinking Straw Effect
First up, water for water’s sake. Most people know that plants take in water through their roots and that this water travels up their stems and into their leaves. But have you ever wondered how plants manage to keep the water flowing up their stems against the pull of gravity? The answer is that, as water evaporates from the plant’s leaves during a process known as transpiration, it creates a draw on the water in the plant’s stem, which, in turn, creates a draw on the water in the plant’s roots, which then draw on the water in the soil. The effect of water evaporating from the leaves, then, is to cause the plant to suck water up from the soil through its roots a bit like when you put your lips to a drinking straw. Without water to evaporate from its leaves, a plant couldn’t draw more water up through its roots.
Second, water pressure maintains rigidity. If there’s a ready supply of water in the soil, the water that is drawn up into the stems and foliage of a plant creates pressure within its cells (known as turgor). This pressure keeps the plant rigid and upright. This plant posture enables the plant to hold its leaves up to the sun, creating maximum surface area for photosynthesis (about which, more in a moment!). Of course, when soil is dry, plants are unable to replace the water that is lost from their leaves during transpiration. This means that the water pressure within the plant’s cells drops and its leaves droop. Is it any wonder, then, that your beloved blooms can go so quickly from spritely-looking pillars of health to a wilting mess on hot summer days?
Third, photosynthesis. This is the process by which plants generate their own food using their built-in solar panels—their leaves. When sunlight hits a plant’s foliage, the plant turns into a mini-nuclear reactor. Chlorophyll in the leaves uses the energy in sunlight to react water with carbon dioxide and produce glucose plus oxygen. Glucose is what provides the plant with energy. No water means no reaction, no reaction means no plant food! Without water, then, photosynthesis cannot take place and plants cannot produce the food they need to grow and thrive.
Carbon dioxide + water (+ light energy) → glucose + oxygen
Finally, in addition to the food that plants generate during photosynthesis, plants need additional minerals from the soil. The three most important ones are Nitrogen, Magnesium and Potassium. While they each have multiple uses inside a plant, their main purposes are as follows: Nitrogen is used as a building material for plant stems and foliage, so it is essential for healthy growth; Magnesium is used to make chlorophyll, so is essential for photosynthesis; Potassium is used in the production of flowers, so is essential for flowering plants. Without these three minerals, plants would be in big trouble.
“How does this relate to a plant’s water needs?” I hear you ask. Well, plants are only able to take up these essential minerals through their roots when they are dissolved in water. This is one reason why the soil around plants needs to be properly moistened before feed is applied—plants simply cannot take up the crucial nutrients that are in plant feed unless they are dissolved in water.
Watering made easy
It is easy to see, then, why it is vital to keep plants properly hydrated in order to see them at their best. The trouble is that watering cans and hosepipes are so often heavy and impractical, and this can discourage gardeners from using them to water their plants as regularly as they should.
Enter the award-winning YOYO hosepipe by FITT. This incredible piece of kit is lightweight and compact when not in use, with the 30 metre hosepipe weighing just 1.43kg compared with the 4.1kg of another leading brand. So too, the YOYO hose expands to twice its length when filled with water and shrinks back to its original size when not in use. Thus, a 30 metre hosepipe only takes up the space of a 15 metre pipe in my shed—and, let’s face it, we could all do with maximising the space in our sheds! The YOYO hose does all of this whilst being made of durable material that doesn’t kink or bunch up and it comes with a lengthy 5 year warranty.
Put simply, the YOYO hose makes short work of watering my plants to keep them photosynthesising and drawing up essential water and nutrients without breaking my back in the process. It’s a real find. Get your hands on one today and you’ll see the difference in no time!