Capillary matting for plants

If you want to save time and look after your plants in the best possible way, the age-old concept of holding water in a tray and placing your pot plants within that is a no-brainer. Just like putting out enough food for your pet when on holiday, all plant parents provide their blooming marvels with enough water to leave them still flourishing when you arrive back home. From bitter experience, failure to do so generally results in your prized specimen in a rather sorry state.

This seemingly small and insignificant action that we use in our domestic lives has a much bigger impact when you start to scale this up into commercial plant nurseries and garden centres. Especially through the hot months of summer, the constant manual labour involved in watering and increased evaporation leads to needing a more sustainable solution to keeping plants alive.

So what’s out on the market that would help the problem?

Capillary matting watering systems

Although we’re going to focus on Capillary Matting in this article, there are only really two other options alongside this: Flood Benches and Irrigation Systems.

Let’s run through a quick overview of all three before we drill down into the details around Capillary Matting.

Irrigation methods

Pros and cons of watering systems

Flood Benches

These look smart and are very flexible. Once installed, moving around the centre is easy, and this helps to accommodate seasonal plants. In addition, the water storage enables strong root growth and enables plants to draw the water they need to thrive. However, they are expensive. Not only is there the need to replace existing benches to accommodate the new style flood benches, there is also a high surface area which facilitates greater evaporation especially during the summer.

Flood benches are a great solution to decreasing plant loss, and if you’re looking for new quality benches for your centre with a good rustic feel, we would fully recommend using Stagecraft Display.

Irrigation Systems

Traditionally used in plant nurseries but also available in garden centres, a series of pipes and interconnected hoses feed water to the plants. Usually hung-over plants, the water is evenly pumped across all plants in equal measure. There is little consideration for which plants have a greater absorption rate and relies on human intervention to check the plants are placed at a point where their portion of water is most suited to the plant needs.

Although some systems allow a certain amount of flexibility, the hoses are usually fixed to benches, making it harder to rearrange your planteria and come at a very considerable installation price. However, there is no labour cost involved in hose watering, and you can be sure that your plants will be watered automatically each day.

Capillary Matting

Capillary Matting is the cheapest option of the three. It is perfectly okay to fit matting onto existing benches and it can be replaced easily when it starts to get grubby. The pores in the sponge like material hold the water on the bench and plants can draw off the amount they need throughout the day as the matting allows a much more even distribution of water across the bench.

However. There is one key sticking point.

Nearly every garden centre has wooden benches, and to be storing water on the wood for extended periods of time will inevitably cause rotting, eventually leading to bench replacement.

So how do we solve this problem?

As standard, a garden centre will tend to put a strong layer of polythene over the base of the bench before placing the matting on top. Generally, cut with a small lip to totally seal the bench, the plastic is stapled down before placing the cut matting. As the matting is naturally fibrous, a season of stock rotation can cause the matting to look messy. As a consequence, generally a strong, wide weave sheeting is placed on top. This can be easily brushed, whilst the wide weave enables the plants to still draw the water. Again, this would usually be stapled down to stop the sheets moving in high winds.

Needless to say, the process involved in three layers of measuring, cutting and stapling is incredibly time consuming. So is Capillary Matting no good at all then?

We wouldn’t say that. There is one alternative…

As the problem of cutting mats over the years has become increasingly prevalent, we’ve developed an innovative three-layer solution.

We’ve listened to you, and to be honest, just kept it simple.

So what makes Acopia’s Capillary Matting different?

Our matting is a three-layer fabric comprising of your polythene base, matting layer & sheeting top, and brings with it the following benefits:

– Water retention of 3ltrs / m2
– Even water distribution across the mat
– Rapid absorption of water
– Encourages strong root growth
– Reduced risk of disease through no excess water
– Reduced labour costs involved in constant watering
– Less labour time for cutting and fitting the mats
– UV stabilised
– Prolonged bench life of plant stock

And the best part of all?

We find that our customers will experience a 25% reduction in plant loss by using the matting.

But you will still have to cut the mats right?

We will be honest. The matting is a nightmare to cut. It’s thick as it has 3 layers of completely different fabric. Although it can be cut with a Stanley knife, the edges may tend to fray. But we’d rather not solve one challenge and leave you with another. We will fully recommend using our laser cutting service.
Although it sounds expensive, we can almost guarantee that these will be cheaper than buying the full rolls.


Naturally, per square metre, there is a lot less wastage. Hex benches are always the hardest to cut. When it comes to using the laser cutter, we can tesselate the hexagon shapes a lot closer together and our designers will work out the best use of roll to ensure you get a lot more value for your money.
To sing the last final praise of the cutter, the laser will heat seal the edges of the fabric to stop any fraying and increase the longevity of the mats.

So is there anything else to note about our Capillary Matting?

A lot of people ask if it is eco-friendly. And yes, it is. With decreased watering, there is less draw on nearby water supplies. The mats themselves will generally last for around 2 years. There is also options to have recycled cotton matting, however this has a mottled grey appearance opposed to the black.

The final question that we get asked about the matting is how to fit it.
If you’ve received a pile of mats from us, then all you will simply need to do is remove the plants, dry the bench and staple the matting in place. We will tend to group the size of mats in the shipments, so the right one to fit the bench should be pretty easy to find.

Do you want to experience a 25% reduction in plant loss?
Everyone really just wants to know how much money they will save.

We are more than happy to work some calculations about potential monetary savings & investment payback time and send you out a sample.

If this sounds like it might be of interest, please just get in touch below & we’ll come straight back to you!

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