Choosing the right irrigation system is important to the growth and health of your plants, especially in a greenhouse where the gardener controls the moisture. Because of this, the irrigation system should be one that can be controlled and maintained so plants won’t receive too much or too little water.
With the number of irrigation systems available, there is one to suit everyone from the hobby gardener to the commercial grower. best suits the size of your garden or greenhouse and the one that fits in best to the time you can allot to your growing efforts.
When choosing an irrigation system, consider the size of your garden or greenhouse and how much time you want to allot to your growing efforts.
With that in mind, here are some irrigation system options and the benefits of each.
Misting Irrigation: A very fine mist is emitted from overhead sprinklers, distributing needed moisture ideal for plant propagation and seed germination. Misting systems carry the benefit of fending off plant diseases, minimizing plant stress and increasing growth rates. They also help establish the ideal greenhouse environment, keeping it cool, moist, humid and consistent at all times. Misting irrigation systems have a number of suitable small- to large-scale applications.
Overhead Spinner Sprinklers: Mainly used for crops that tolerate wet foliage, overhead sprinklers employ pipes placed above the plants and fitted with nozzles that can be adjusted to varying spray ranges. These often use automatic controls, which offer a time savings to the gardener who can tend to other tasks, but the system should be checked often to ensure it is working properly. Overhead sprinkler systems work well for watering small transplanted plants until they are ready to be placed in a garden or flower bed.
Drip Irrigation System: Using a series of overhead hoses and smaller distribution tubes with emitters or spray stakes at each end, water drips or is sprayed into individual containers. Watering is timed and well-regulated, making a drip system ideal for conserving water. These systems can be expanded as needed, feature low energy costs and can be customized to suit greenhouses, plant containers, raised beds, shrubs, hanging baskets and more. Typically, this type of system is geared toward containerized greenhouse floriculture crops.
Ebb & Flow Bench Irrigation: An efficient subirrigation system that operates by flooding a bench, which is designed with a perimeter lip to hold water. Containerized plants placed in it absorb water and nutrients through the bottom of the pots. A ebb & flow system carry the advantage of requiring very little labor to water plants, cost savings on water and fertilizer as both are recirculated and increasing space efficiency inside a greenhouse. This effective, yet simple irrigation option has been used by everyone from hobbyists to commercial growers.
Hand-Watering: Yes, it can be labor intensive, particularly if you have a large number of plants. But this allows the gardener to adjust water on a plant-by-plant basis. Slowing down and taking the time to do this gives the opportunity to closely examine plants and spot any issues in a timely manner. This option is better suited for the home hobby gardener or even retail garden center who may have a wide variety of plants that require different levels of watering.