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Water: The Essence of Life ...and living green walls, part 1

Water is essential to all life. It keeps us hydrated and keeps all of our vital organs functioning. You cannot live more than a few days without water. In much the same way, water is also essential for plants.

Water is therefore an important consideration for any living green wall project. It is important to know how plants use water, how to spot plants having a water-related issue, and how different types of green walls can be irrigated. In this three-part blog post, we will be examining the topic of water and how it relates to living green walls.

Part 1: How Plants Use Water

How do plants use water?

Plants need water to complete photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process in which plants make food from water and light. Water enters through the roots of the plant, travels up to the leaves and is exchanged for carbon dioxide when light hitting the leaves evaporates the water. This exchange provides food and energy for the plant. The amount of water a plant needs depends on the type of plant, the amount of light, and plant maturity. Plants in a hot sunny environment will require more water due to the increased rate of evaporation occurring at the leaves. Additionally, the water also needs to be of good quality. Water carries minerals, both good and bad, to plants. It is important to make sure the water source has a neutral pH level and isn't too high in contaminants such as sulfur, chlorine, or iron.

When watering goes wrong

Over watering a plant leads to the plant "drowning". The roots become so saturated  that plants are unable to take in oxygen.. The water pressure in the leaves will increase and cause the plant to wilt since the plant will not be able to support the extra water weight. The wilting will give off the appearance of under watering but the soil will be moist. Leaves of the plant will also turn brown or yellow as the plant suffocates. It is not uncommon to see both young and mature leaves falling from an over watered plant. Over watered plants will continue to produce new leaves and even bloom.

 Under watering a plant leads to the plant "starving". Since water is need to make food and energy the plant will eventually die of hunger. The physical changes will appear similar to over watering but with dry soil and no new leave production. The plant will wilt due to lack of energy to hold itself up, leaves will turn colors and fall off as well.

LaKesha Campbell