Nystrom's Nursery
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Caring for plants during drought

By Neil Peterson

Last Updated Jun 28, 2012 12:29:39 PM

So, as you've probably ascertained, we could really use some rain. As the drought conditions continue to progress, even plants which are mature and established in the landscape will be effected. The last time we had conditions similar to this was the drought of 1988-which is not good at all.

Dryness affects plants through several routes. The first and most pronounced (or noticible) effect is the wilting/drying of tissue. Plants absorb water through the roots, move it via the stems, and evaporate it on the undersides of the leaves. When net evaporation is greater than absorbtion the leaves cannot maintain turgidity. Turgidity is the scientific term that defines how full a plant cell is with water. When extreme or prolonged dryness occurs, plants partially or completely dessicate.

So with that here are a few tips to ease the water bill and be effecient in watering:

  • Water when there is no direct sun. Overhead watering on a sunny day can generate evaporation rates of up to 70%-we can run out of water, use it responsibly.
  • Saturate¬†the root¬†area. Pouring water directly onto the crown of a plant doesn't reach all the roots radiating from the plant.
  • Water deeply-let a sprinkler run for several hours over an area. The more moisture put into the soil, the less frequently it will dry. Additionally it encouranges plant roots to go deeper, in change making the plants more durable.
  • Don't fertilize-a plant that's moisture stressed should not be cajoled into trying to grow (except annuals and containerized plants).
  • Remember your trees- they are as sensitive to drought as everything else.