After sunlight, the most important requirement for any plant is water. In the absence of sufficient quantity of water, the plant may wilt, wither and die.
Most of the nutrients required by the plants are absorbed by the roots in the soluble form.
Nutrients available or added in the soil also get absorbed by them in similar fashion. Though water is an important element for any plant, it should be remembered that excess amount of it could damage and ultimately kill the plant.
The quality of water also plays an important role in the development of a plant.
It should neither be acidic nor alkaline and the pH value of water should be between 6.0 and 7.5 and the EC value has to be below 0.25.
The percentage of water in the air (moisture) to its maximum holding capacity is expressed ad humidity. Some plants require more humidity and some less humidity.
The plant basin becomes hard and dry and mulching or loosening of soil is required to retain the moisture in the soil.
It also applies to potted plants.
Covering the plant basin or pot surface with black polythene sheet helps in reducing loss of water through evaporation.
The application of fertilisers, fungicides, weedicides and pesticides is done either as liquid or in the form of spray. When applying in the liquid form, ensure the percentage of dilution and when spraying, do not spray on new flush of leaves.
After application of fertilisers, water should be added profusely to prevent damage to the plant due to anti-osmosis as lot of heat is released during the breakdown of these chemicals. Do not water in hot sun and the best time is either in the morning or in the evening.
For fruit crops such as mango, stop watering for 25 days to 30 days before harvesting for better fruit quality and increased shelf life.
Some fruit and other economic plants such as Jamun, Tamarind, Custard Apple, Cashew Nut, Amla, Ber and Jack Fruit etc., can survive and yield even without watering after establishment. Though watering helps to increase the yield, such type of raising plants is called rainfed or dry land farming.
For plants in ground, watering can either be done by flooding with hosepipes, drip or sprinkler irrigation.
Watering indoor and outdoor plants and seed beds can be done with a rose can or a pipe fitted with a fine shower.
For fruit plants, double ring method of basin formation should be used so that water does not touch the trunk.
And for vegetables and flower crops, water should not be allowed to flow from one bed to another bed, instead water should be allowed to flow in each bed individually during the flood irrigation.
Water is a scarce natural commodity.
Harvest rain water both at residential and farm land either to use it for watering the plants or for ground water recharge.
In potted plants, good number of drainage holes are provided to drain out excess water and see that they are always open and not choked or clogged.
Excess water, specially in cactus and succulents group of plants cause rotting and such plants are to be watered only once in six to eight days.
Do not plant big fruit plants where ground water levels comes within four to five feet from the surface. When organic manures such as compost, vermicompost and oil cakes are added in the plant media, the water holding capacity of the soil increases and thus water requirement decreases.
Materials like Stockabsorb or Agriabsorb when applied in the watering zone of the plant basins and in pots absorb water up to 200 times of its volume and release gradually to the plant thereby increasing the watering intervals substantially.
(The author is a well-known nurseryman in Hyderabad, and available at firstname.lastname@example.org)