“Are we in Seattle?” came the question today when another round of severe storms pushed into the area. “Reminds me of Boston,” was overheard yesterday after a week of nasty weather graced our skies. And though the gardens love this wet weather, one thing we can all do without is the hail that’s been teaming up with it.
If your plants become victims of the savage skies, take heart: though it looks bad now, depending on the plant, its maturity, and time left in the season for recovery, all may not be lost.
At highest risk are vegetable root crops, such as potatoes or beets, whose destroyed leaves could mean the plant sends up new shoots, compromising quality of the crop. For leafy vegetables, be patient: give them at least a week to recuperate after the storm, and if there’s no sign of life, replant.
Flowering annuals stripped of their leaves may not survive, and replanting now will ensure a good display later in summer. Yes, it’s hard to pull up those babies, but a shredded stalk is not going to give your neighbors cause to envy your landscape.
But if there’re a few bits left on the stem and you’re feeling nurturing, clean them up and a give them a light application of fertilizer. They might recover.
Severely shredded leaves on smaller perennials should be cut back to the ground. If the leaves aren’t too damaged, leave the foliage alone. Bleeding hearts and other perennials with soft stems that look reasonably unharmed should be cut back part way. Generally they’ll sprout new leaves along the stem at the junction between the old leaves and the stem.
With well-established perennials, work fertilizer in around damaged plants to give them a boost for recovery.
Perennials with firm stalks should be cut partially back. If they don’t sprout new leaves on existing stems, look for new stems pushing up from their roots. At this time, cut down the older stalks that were left standing after the storm.
Trees and shrubs will push new leaves if they’ve been healthy this spring, so just rake up and compost and plant parts that fall to the ground. Examine your woody plants for wounds in the bark or torn limbs; clean up the wound site with a sharp knife and let the plant heal itself. But if the wounds are severe, treat them with a fungicide to prevent canker diseases within 24 hours.
With this unsettled weather, lightning, hail and tornadoes are a bigger worry than protecting your plants. Once the heavy storm sets in, TAKE SHELTER. Don’t make yourself an entry for the Darwin Awards by putting your plant before your life.