Capillary Matting for Plants

Written by chris bond
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Capillary Matting for Plants
Capillary matting allows for plants to directly absorb moisture into their roots from the bottoms of their pots. (Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

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.

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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.

Capillary Matting for Plants
Capillary matting reduces some of the water wastes associated with overhead watering. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

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.

Capillary Matting for Plants
The kitchen sink can be a viable source of water for a capillary mat if you are unable to water your plants. (Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images)


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.

Capillary Matting for Plants
Plants in clay pots should not be used on capillary mats, because the pot itself will absorb the majority of the water. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

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