greenhouse watering system

How to Choose a Greenhouse Watering System

As you build your own greenhouse or set up one you’ve purchased, one important item to include is a water system of some kind.

It is much easier to install faucets and drains before building begins, rather than trying to find a watering solution later. Regardless of the type of watering system you use, you should have a floor that drains well. Puddles are unsanitary and dangerous.

There are several types of watering systems that work well in a greenhouse. Each one has specific benefits or weaknesses, so you should explore the options before investing in a watering system.

Hand Watering

Hand watering can be both easy and effective, since you can deliver water directly where needed. With a watering can, or hose and nozzle, you can deliver a flow of water anywhere from a fine mist to a high volume. This is the most common solution in a small hobby greenhouse.


greenhouse watering system

Drip Systems

Drip irrigation systems have many strengths. They conserve water, since flow is regulated and timed. Their weakness is the possibility of the individual nozzles or drippers clogging. There are many systems on the market, and they are very easy to put together. Drip systems consist of many small tubes branching from a pvc pipe, each one delivering water to an individual plant or container. The whole system can be connected to sensors and timers for an automated system. Most large home improvement centers carry the components, or you can often find them online.

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If you have a greenhouse with beds along the walls, then a perforated or drip hose may work well. These hoses have tiny holes that allow water to ooze out slowly. The hose is simply laid along the bed, and can be connected to a timer for interval watering.

Capillary Mat Watering

Mat watering is a good system when you have many plants in various sized pots. Capillary mat systems have many benefits:

  • Provides consistent moisture for healthy, bountiful plants
  • the reservoir and capillary mat drought-proof your plants
  • Reduces watering chores; simply fill the reservoir and the plants water themselves!

This is also a good way to water propagation trays, since the water is wicked up and the seeds and small seedlings are not disturbed by top watering. Simply line a waterproof tray with a capillary mat, add water and set your seedling trays on top.

For large areas, a thick mat is placed over poly on the bench, and one end is set into a gutter filled with water. Capillary action keeps the mat wet, and the plant pots take up the water in the same way through perforations in their bases. Many garden suppliers carry these mats. Their downside is they may eventually clog with algae.

Mist Watering

Misting is the most efficient way to keep seedlings moist. A pipe with fine nozzles can be set up over a row of plants or seedling trays. It is an efficient way to keep cuttings that you are propagating moist. It also helps maintain greenhouse humidity, since some of the fine spray will evaporate. In turn, this cools the temperature inside the greenhouse. Misting systems can be set up with electronic timers, programmed to mist at set times and for set periods.

Misting is not a good way to water large plants, since constantly wet foliage encourages mold, and the root systems do not get the needed deep watering.

As you research greenhouse watering systems in detail you may find that a combination of systems will be best, depending on how you intend to use your greenhouse. Watering can be a time consuming job, and the health of your plants depends on it. Regardless of which system or systems you use, keep a close watch on your plants, and be aware of their water needs at all times.

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