Yes, it’s true that plants need water. But an overabundance of it can damage gardens. The recent flooding in South Carolina during the Hurricane Joaquin watch was a catastrophe for property owners and garden enthusiasts. No doubt, there is a lot of cleaning up occurring as a result.
The calamity was compounded due to the extensive amount of flooding that occurred. Dams have broken causing additional flooding and standing water has topped off at the peak of two-story homes.
When plants are exposed to standing water for a long period of time, the roots can suffocate and die and toxic compounds can build up in saturated soil. The process of photosynthesis, an essential activity for plant health, is inhibited stopping or, at least, slowing down plant growth. Moreover, the presence of all that water can cause massive fungal growth.
The overwhelming amounts of water cause plants to suffer water stress and they take on certain characteristics that visually show problems. Symptoms include:
· Yellowing or browning of leaves
· Leaf curling
· Leaf wilting
· Reduction of new leaf size
· Early fall color
· Branch dieback
· Gradual plant decline and death
Getting rid of the water as fast as possible is essential. Experts suggest that you dig ditches in your garden to help drain away the water.
After the water has receded it will be necessary to wash the silt or mud from the leaves of the plants. Any residue left can be hosed off.
As conditions improve, take the time to watch for signs of dieback. But don’t be so quick to start pruning branches. Of course, there will be lost leaves, but this is not necessarily a sign that the branch or plant is dead. As long as the leaves remain green and pliable, then there is a good chance that they will grow back. Just cut off limbs that you can see are damaged or obviously dead.
It will probably be necessary to apply a light amount of fertilizer to restore nutrients that have been leached from the soil.
If you get a warning of an impending hurricane or major storm, then there are some things you can do to protect your garden from damage. Experts suggest that you dig up some plants that you want to save, put them into containers and store them away from the deluge.
Although it would take more time, you may want to amend your soil type so that it drains better when a major rain occurs. Remember that sandy soil drains much faster than clay-based soil.
Many gardeners in South Carolina probably had to contend with saltwater from the sea flooding their garden. Under these circumstances experts suggest that you rinse your plants off immediately and water well. Next, you should request a representative from your local county extension office to test the soil to see how much salt is present.
If there is severe salt presence, then you can use gypsum to help limit the damage. Gypsum replaces sodium or salt with calcium. Keep in mind, however, that his causes an increase in the overall salt content of the soil. So be sure to consult with a local cooperative extension service agent for advice before using the gypsum.