Plant Tiles should be treated just like any other plants. How much water is required will be determined by the environment as well as the variety of plants:
– Time of the year. The plants will generally require more water in the Summer rather than the Winter.
– Depth of soil/media into which the Plant Tiles can grow roots. The deeper the available space for the roots to grow the better as this will act as a reservoir to keep water and nutrients. We recommend a minimum of 120mm.
– Type of soil/media used under the Plant Tiles. Ideally, all plants would like a loose friable media/soil full of organic material into which they can set root as deeply as possible. A growing media that has a high level of organic material incorporated through it would not compact, thus allowing the roots of the plants to penetrate deeply to source the water and nutrients required. I would recommend incorporating fine composted organic material into your existing soils to a minimum depth of 100mm, ideally deeper, 200mm if it is possible. Depending on what your existing soils are like, a 50/50 blend of soil and fine composted organic material would minimise future compaction. I would also advocate incorporating water crystals into the media so as to increase the size of the reservoir from which the plant can draw the water it requires.
A media or soil with the right structure and with an appropriate quantity of organic matter, will not only hold the water the plant requires in reserve, it will also improve the drainage around the roots of the plant. A soil with the right structure, will be dry(ish) and dry soil will inhibit spore germination reducing the chance of the plant being attacked by fungal disease.
Preparing a bed as I have described can be quite a job, physically and financially which is probably why it is rarely undertaken but the reality is, the better the preparation, the better the result.
The organic material to which I refer is fine composted bark similar to a potting mix which is available in bulk from most landscape yards. Ensure that the mix does not contain too much sand or soil as it is the organic material that you require and it must be composted material otherwise it will draw nitrogen as it composts in the ground, which will deprive the plant of nutrient. One further warning, ensure the organic mix has no nutgrass which can be expensive to eradicate.
The following link to a Victorian government website provides some good advice on soil structure. http://vro.agriculture.vic.gov.au/dpi/vro/vrosite.nsf/pages/soilhealth_soil_structure
– Length of time since planting the Plant Tiles. Initially, the roots of the Plant Tiles are reliant on the small amount of media in which they have been growing in the trays. Thus, regular, small waterings are required to keep the roots moist. Depending on the media/soil used, the roots will quickly establish growing down into the media so more water and nutrients will be available for the roots. You may have to gently lift a corner of a Plant Tile to ascertain the depth of the roots and the amount of water available.
– Amount of sun/shade. The more sun the area receives, the more quickly the area will dry out.
– Cold/hot weather. Plants generally need more watering in hot weather as the heat dries out the growing soil/media. Plants don’t tend to grow as much in cold weather and often don’t require as much water.
– Nearby trees. Trees pull moisture and nutrient out of the soil and one of the consequences is that, having drawn all the water required/available, the soil is left dry and hard. So hard that at times, it is difficult to get the roots, in this case a ground cover, to penetrate the soil where they can source the water and nutrient required.
Large trees can draw water for a long way and ensuring the soil structure beneath the Plant Tiles, or for any garden plant for that matter, contains adequate organic matter (which won’t compact down as much) will significantly assist in reduction of water and nutrient required for good growth.