Stress relief for plants
In today’s society, people, pets and now even plants are suffering from stress. Changes in climate are taking their toll on many garden plants. Drying winds and warm, sunny conditions can cause what is technically known as ‘water stress’.
To help combat this condition gardeners should think carefully about water conservation, irrigation systems and water wise gardening techniques. Many plants are hardy in drought conditions. However, if you water with small amounts over short periods this will encourage plant roots to come near the surface, making plants less drought tolerant and subsequently stressed.
When watering concentrate your efforts on recently planted trees or shrubs. They may not always show signs of stress but they are the ones most in need of watering and nurturing. Drying winds cause leaves and soil to dry out, which in turn leads to increased water stress. Seedling growth is checked by drying sun and cooling winds.
Wind rock also tends to weaken the hold of roots, inhibiting the growth and the uptake of water. Prevent root damage by checking stakes, ties and trellis are secure. Make sure plants are tethered, if necessary, and consider planting a windbreak to protect newly planted areas. Temporary windbreaks can be made with netting, permanent ones with timber.
Putting up a simple polythene ‘fence’ can help increase humidity and prevent stress. Useful plants that can be used as living windbreaks include Euonymous Japonica, Olearia, bamboos and ornamental grasses. Cover ground with ivies to block out light to the soil and prevent weeds from germinating and stealing valuable water from your plants. Once a natural layer of vegetation has formed nature will lend a hand and help keep plants in a stress free environment.
Remove leaves from ground cover and other plants will fall and rot on the shady floor. This is then incorporated into the soil by the earthworm population thus improving humus content, conserving water and developing an automatic weed and feed system.
Using mulches or gravel can also help conserve moisture by preventing evaporation from the soil and helping de-stress plants during extreme weather conditions.
Water plants in the early morning or evening when the sun is at its weakest – this helps prevent water loss from evaporation.