Capillary Matting for Plants

Updated February 21, 2017

Capillary matting is a microirrigation method for watering plants. It can be a temporary solution or can be incorporated into an overall irrigation scheme. Properly used, it can reduce overall water consumption by up to 60 per cent, compared to traditional watering methods.

What It Is

Capillary matting is any type of self-watering mat, usually made of some feltlike material. There are two main methods by which it can deliver water to plants. One method is to supply irrigation to the mat via a line source of water. The other, more common, method is to rely solely on the capillary action of the mat to absorb water from a standing source.

How to Use

Lay one portion of the mat into a reservoir of water, such as a sink or bucket. Place the plants on the other end of the mat on an area that can drain any excess water. The plants will imbibe moisture through the drainage holes in the bottoms of their pots.


When using capillary mats, there are some things to keep in mind. Plants in clay pots are not able to utilise the benefits of capillary matting, as the moisture from the mat will be absorbed into the pot itself, with very little reaching the plants' roots. If unchecked, damaging levels of salts can build up in the matting, which can in time burn the roots. Occasional leaching of the mat is recommended.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Chris Bond has been writing about gardening, sustainable agriculture and local history since 2005. He has been published in "The Plain Dealer," "The Repository" and online. Bond holds an A.A.S. from the State University of New York at the Finger Lakes campus in Canandaigua, N.Y.