Friday, September 9th, 2011...7:11 am

Helping Plants when Stressed by Weather Challenges

Bee Balm, Stressed | 199/365 by mfhiatt

Someone said that this summer has been the wettest on record-at least on the East Coast. Meanwhile parts of the US have had one of the longest, hottest droughts.  I believe the heat level is a record. The challenges for farmers and gardeners are huge. I often wonder if my parents could have become farmers if they had to overcome such weather hurdles. And the challenges for plants with this strange weather is enormous.

Plants of any kind, including trees, are under a great deal of stress with these weather extremes. Even when plants survive, stress makes the plants more vulnerable to disease and insect attacks. For those readers of TheGardenLady who want to learn more about plant stress and what is happening in the research on plant stress at a very academic level check out this.

We will have to wait to see how the stress will affect our plants. When it comes to larger plants, like shrubs and trees, you might not see any stress related problems occurring immediately. Trees may start showing problems six months from now and sometimes it takes years to show up. No one can accurately predict what will happen to your plant before the stress signs show up. But there are some things to do in the garden to help the plants.

 (1 ) After rains, while the soil is wet, don’t walk or drive over the soil. You don’t want to compact the soil to add other problems to the garden area.

(2) Always cut off any dead or damaged shoots or branches or tree limbs. Not only will the plant look better but it will prevent insects and diseases from moving into the plant.

(3) In the spring you should apply a balanced fertilizer and put mulch over the root area after application. TheGardenLady likes worm castings otherwise known as worm poop as fertilizer.  See here.  One can even mix it with water to make a fertilizer “tea” to spray on the leaves of your plants.

If you live in an area with lots of rain, some long term suggestions to consider:

(1) You might want to put in raised beds for your plants.

(2) You might consider planting trees on a slight mound so that it does not sit in standing water.

(3)  If you are putting in a new driveway or repairing an old one, or putting in a new patio or garden paths, choose permeable surfaces to allow rain to soak in. My driveway is stone.

If your plants are suffering water stress this summer, we will also have to see what weather Mother Nature will bring us next year to base our watering strategy on what she gives us. You will have to water thoroughly if we have dry spells after this waterlogged summer because plants will be more susceptible to drought stress.


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