Remembering the Drought of 2016

Be prepared New England. The negative impact of the 2016 drought may be visible now. 

Water deficits cause the fine root hairs of plants and shrubs, especially newly planted ones, to close and desiccate.   As the root length shrinks, the plant becomes unstable and vulnerable to diseases and insects.  If you begin noticing wilt, lost branches, mushrooms found on the base of a tree (root rot) or larger openings (cankers) in the bark, it may be a symptom of drought injury.

And while it's easy to forget all of those water bans, it is important to remember these effects when diagnosing plant problems this season.


Drought Resistant Tips

1. Layer 3 inches of mulch to the END of the canopy or drip line of a shrub or tree.

2. Don't prune or fertilize during dry periods as it stimulates growth.

3. If a "sun loving plant" keeps wilting, it may need organic materials (compost, peat) mixed deep into the soil

4. Water slow and deep, up to 3 times a week for tender or new plants.

5. REMOVE weeds.  They steal water and nutrients in your soil.

6.  Begin choosing drought tolerant alternatives. They are just as beautiful and low maintenance. These may include shrubs like, Oak Leaf Hydrangea, Junipers, Smoketree or perennials, such as, yarrow, coreopsis (tickseed), cranesbill, daylily, sedum, lavender, and potentilla.

Two Tips for "Autumn Joy" Sedum

Truth be told...

I never appreciated this plant until I observed its full potential. Like many New England gardeners, I planted Autumn Joy for its drought tolerance, autumn color and, of course, as a snack for bees.


Being an easy plant to divide, I split up my mounds of Sedums transplanting one batch to a shadier part of my garden. This is the second year I have noticed that Autumn Joy grown in full sun developed a more intense shade of copper which was stunning ALL winter. But if you really want to maximize their beauty, try two tips. 

One, plant them in a bed which has year round full sun.  Yes, even in the winter.  The summer sun will bring out the rich color in the fall and it will remain on the plant as it dries.  

Second, plant them in bed with dark mulch, otherwise their color will blend. Remember, mulch matters too!