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After the Tropical Storm, My Plants Need a Snorkel

My Plants need a Snorkel

We needed rain and our wishes were granted. The soil was dry and dusty when I planted salvia in my yard, right before the tropical storm that unleashed torrents of rain in North Florida. After 12-17 inches of rain descended, I am concerned about my landscape plants and tress. When the soil is flooded, oxygen needed by plant roots is depleted and the plant “suffocates”.

Which Plants are More Tolerant of Wet Soils?

Some plants can tolerate a week of saturated soil, so I am not concerned about the Black Gum, Cypress, Willow or Swamp Oak trees in the neighborhood. If the water drains in the next day or two, my Red Maple, Hackberry and Green Ash should be ok. In a low-lying area that typically floods, I planted Swamp Hibiscus, Virginia Sweetspire, Yellow Flag Iris and Canna Lily which should survive. See Florida Friendly Landscaping, Plants for Wet Areas to read more.

Plants that are not so tolerant of wet soils:

Unfortunately, the pines, oaks and my favorite Sugar Maple may not survive if the area stays flooded for more than a few days. Additionally, Crabapple, Redbud and some Magnolia trees will be stressed or even die The Asclepias I plant for Monarch butterflies, sedum groundcover, Black-eyed Susan and the salvia may not make it either.

Keep an eye out for these trouble signs on your trees or plants: Assessing Damage and Restoring Trees after a Hurricane read more here.

  • Broken limbs and decay
  • Exposed roots
  • Reduced leaf size and shoot growth
  • Sprouts along the stem or trunk
  • Leaning or unstable tress
  • Premature fall color/leaf drop
  • Dieback of branches or crowns
  • Leaf yellowing
  • Wilted leaves and stem
  • Large seed cops in years to come
How long before I know if my plants will survive?

For the most annuals and vegetables, you will know in a couple of weeks of their survival. It may take some plants up to a year or more to show signs of stress or decline. It really depends on the species of plant and the duration of soil saturation. The nest thing to do is monitor your plants for the next year or so.

Future Landscaping/Replanting

If your trees or shrubs die, avoid planting the same type of plant in that area. Disease pathogens will probably be present and can affect the new plants you install. Instead seize the opportunity to add diversity to your landscape by planting species that tolerate wet soils since the area will likely flood again with another tropical storm or hurricane. For more information, contact your local equal opportunity Extension office.

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