8. Watering plants

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8. Watering plants:

May one water his garden during Shemita?

One may water it to prevent damage or loss towards the garden.[1] One may not do so for its continued growth and development.



May one wash his hands over plants and grass during Shemita?

No.[2] This applies even towards plants or fields within a public area.[3] However some[4] are lenient in this regard.[5]

May one water plants or flowers that grew during Shemita?[6]

No. It is forbidden to do so even for the sake of preventing loss.

May one allow his air conditioner water valve drip onto grass?

Yes.[7] However, some[8] are stringent in this matter.

May one drip dry his laundry over the grass?

Some Poskim[9] are lenient in this matter.


May one mop water from his floor onto his garden?

No.[10] However, if a plant killing agent is being used as floor detergent, then one may mop the water into the garden.[11] [Most detergents are plant friendly and do not pose a threat to one’s garden.]

May one mop water into a drain that then falls onto grass?

Yes.[12] However, some[13] are stringent in this matter.

May one urinate on plants or grass?[14]



Garden Care

May one remove rocks from his field?

It is forbidden to do so if one’s intent is to help the areas under the rock grow.[15] It is permitted to do so if one is removing the rock for other purposes.

May one spray pesticide on his plants and produce during Shemita?

One may do so for purposes of preventing loss or destruction to the plants due to insects.[16] It is forbidden to do so for the purpose of extended growth.[17]

May one remove weeds from his garden?[18]

No.[19] However, any weed which is damaging the plant, or a tree may be removed.

May one clean debris from a garden?[20]

Yes. It is permitted to remove garbage and pieces of debris from one’s garden during Shemita. Likewise, one may remove any item that from the garden that does not belong there.

 Laws related to Potted Plants

May one plant inside of a pot that is sitting on the ground during Shemita?

It is forbidden to plant any item during Shemita inside of a pot that contains a hole. If the pot does not contain a hole, then if it is made of wood or earthenware it is forbidden to plant within it.[21] If it is made of glass or metal [or plastic[22]] then some Poskim[23] rule it is permitted[24] while others[25] rule it is Rabbinically forbidden, and so is the custom.

May one plant in a pot within one’s house during Shemita?

Some Poskim[26] rule that Shemita laws do not apply to any plant that is grown within a roofed home. One may thus plant all products within the pot and the products do not have a Shemita status and are not forbidden due to Sefichin. This applies even if the pot is made of earthenware or wood. Other Poskim[27], however, are stringent in this matter and rule that it is forbidden to plant or perform any Melacha to potted plants within a home, just like all Shemita produce. Practically many are lenient to permit Melacha to all potted plants that are within a closed pot that does not contain holes, and is within a roofed room.[28]

Practically, even those that are lenient must fulfill the following conditions:

1. The pot is closed without holes

2. There is a roof on top of the Pot. This excludes the allowance to plant a pot in one’s porch.

3. The room contains walls which reach a height of ten Tefach [80cm].

4. There is a sheet of PVC or aluminum [tin foil; disposable baking pan or tray] under the pot to create an interval between the parts of the plant that grow out from the pot and the floor which it hovers.


May one plant in water [Hydroponics] during Shemita?

Some Poskim[29] rule it is permitted to plant all types of foods within a water pot [hydroponics] during Shemita if the pot does not contain any earth ingredients. Other Poskim[31] rule it is forbidden.

May one water a potted plant during Shemita?

One may water a potted plant to prevent damage or loss towards the plant. One may not do so for its continued growth and development, unless the plant is within a roofed room, in which case according to some opinions it is permitted to water it even for growing purposes.

May one enter potted plants from his home, onto his porch, during Shemita?

Some Poskim[32] rule it is forbidden to move a potted plant during Shemita from a roofed area to a non-roofed area. Other Poskim[33] rule it is permitted to do so. Practically the custom is to be stringent.  

May one enter potted plants from one’s garden, into one’s home, during Shemita?


May one move a potted plant from one area to another within the garden?[35]

Atzitz Nakuv: One is not to lift the plant and place it in another area of the garden, as the lifting and replacing is considered similar to a new replanting.[36] However, one may move the plant by sliding it from one area to another without lifting it up.[37]

Atzitz Sheiyno Nakuv: May be moved from place to place outside without worry.

May one lift a potted plant that fell onto the ground?


May one walk under areas that contain potted plants, such as under a porch?[38]

Yes. This applies even if the pots have holes.

May one enter flowers into a water vase during Shemita?[39]




[1] Rambam 1:8; Mabit 4:64; Toras HaShemita 4:27

[2] Admur 336:9 regarding Shabbos; See M”B 336:3

[3] Admur ibid; See M”B 336:27

[4] See Chazon Ish 18:6 that permits watering produce if one is not Miskavein and is not doing so in the way of watering.

[5] The reason: As watering during Shemita is only Rabbinical and one has no intent or benefit in doing so.

[6] Grach Naah

[7] The reason: As one is not actively causing the produce to be watered.

[8] Derech Emunah 1.18

[9] Koveitz Mibeis Levi 5 1994

[10] Admur 336:9 regarding Shabbos

[11] Admur ibid regarding urine and the same would apply regarding killing agents.

[12] The reason: As one is not actively causing the produce to be watered.

[13] Derech Emunah 1.18

[14] Admur 336:9 regarding Shabbos

[15] This falls under the Melacha of Sikul which is Rabbinically forbidden. [Rambam 1:4]

[16] As this is considered Leikumeiy which is permitted.

[17] This falls under the Melacha of Ishun which is Rabbinically forbidden during Shemita. [Rambam 1:4]

[18] Toras HaShemita 4:15

[19] This is included within the Melacha of Nekush which is Rabbinically forbidden to be done during Shemita.

[20] Halichos Hashevi’is 10:9; See Minchas Shlomo 1:51-10

[21] Mahril Diskin 27:1; Toras HaShemita 2:4; Admur 336:12 regarding Shabbos

[22] See Chelkas Yaakov 2:163; Igros Moshe 1:27; Minchas Yitzchak 3:67; Bear Moshe 4:7; Piskeiy Teshuvos 87:1

[23] Implication of Mahril Diskin ibid brought in Toras HaShemita ibid; Rav SZ”A in Minchas Shlomo [as heard from Harav Yaakov Yosef]

[24] The reason: As this would be a decree upon a decree, as the entire Shemita today is Rabbinical, and the entire reason for prohibiting an Atzitz Sheiyno Nakuv is because of an Atzitz Nakuv.

[25] Nechpah Bekesef 1:4; Sadeh Haaretz 3:28; Chazon Ish Tosefes Sheviis 1 in name of Ridbaz 1:6

[26] Peas Hashulchan 20 Beis Yisrael 52; Yerushalmi Arla1:2 leaves this matter in question and the Peas Hashulchan ibid concludes that one may be lenient today when Shemita is only of Rabbinical obligation.

[27] Chazon Ish Sheviis 22; Gra”ch Neah p. 2304

[28] Chazon Ish ibid; HaShemita 3:1-5; Grach Naah ibid “don’t protest against those that are lenient”

[29] Nechpah Bekesef 1:5; Sadeh Haaretz 3:28; Toras HaShemita 2:4; Hilchos Sheviis 1:6 in name of Chazon Ish

[31] Har Tzevi Zeraim 2:31-6; Har Tzevi 11; See Admur 336:17 regarding Shabbos “One who soaks wheat or barley and the like in water in order for it to grow is liable for the planting prohibition. This applies even if one soaks only a single kernel. For this reason, it is forbidden to place kernels in water with intent to leave them there for enough time for them to be able to grow.”

[32] Chazon Ish Sheviis 22:1; Toras HaShemita 2:4; See Admur 336:12 regarding the prohibition of doing so on Shabbos.

[33] Sefer Hashemita 3:1; Minchas Shlomo 1:41-3

[34] As there is no prohibition to uproot an item during Shemita, and the prohibition is simply against planting. Hence, in this respect it is not similar to Shabbos.

[35] Mishnas Hagrish 4:18; Minchas Shlomo 1:41 in name of Meiri Shabbos 81b; Halichos Hashevi’is 11:20

[36] See regarding Shabbos: Admur 336:12; 312:6, Ketzos Hashulchan 142 footnote 5

[37] Chut Shani p. 89; Mishpitei Eretz 8:10; Halichos Hashevi’is 11:20

[38] Or Letziyon 1:6

[39] Admur 336:18 regarding Shabbos; Minchas Yerushalayim 2:25

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