What to do to save your plants after a heavy rain ?

Cyclonic storms and torrential rain can damage plants, causing them to wilt, turn yellow and rot. How does one prevent root rot and keep plants healthy after heavy rains? Let these tips guide you in maintaining your plants, even in inclement weather.

We lived in Visakhapatnam for a number of years at a stretch, and then we moved to Chennai. Ironically, both cities are infamous for cyclonic storms. I have a passion for gardening, call it a hobby, but among all the things that I do as a pastime gardening is my favourite choice.

I had a huge collection of potted plants on the terraces of my houses. Rains are always welcome, and my plants certainly enjoyed the showers. It was the cyclonic storms that were a problem. Days of incessant rain and strong winds were not something that my plants could handle.

In the initial years of our stay in Visakhapatnam, I lost many plants that had been moving with us, throughout the country. I had no clue how to restore the plants that had been pounded with heavy rains and winds. But, I got fortunate when I met an old gardener, pretty seasoned and knowledgeable, who provided me tips on how to salvage plants that had been affected by heavy rain.

Heavy rain and damage to plants

In the aftermath of a cyclonic storm or heavy rain, your plants can appear half dead. It is not just potted plants, but even plants growing in the ground that can get damaged because of too much rain and the wind. Plants suffer stress and begin to droop. The water logging can cause yellowing of the foliage and root rot. The latter means the death of the plant. Added to all this is the risk of fungal infections in the plant's root system, which if left unattended will eventually kill the plant.

My experiments with vegetable gardening taught me that vegetables were more susceptible to rain damage.

Tips on restoring the plants after heavy rain

If the sun comes out the chances of your plants bouncing back to their original healthy selves are really good. But, that is not true for all plants. Yes, the sturdy ones with a strong root system usually survive the onslaught; it is the fragile plants that need extra attention.

A trick I learnt on my own was to shift my plants indoors, into the hall. Not easy to do, because each pot weighed a ton. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but potted plants are heavy, and they get heavier if you have to move dozens of them indoors. Doing this protected them from the rain, but it also meant that I had to leave the lights on, so they could carry on with their photosynthesis, unhindered.

It was a challenge maintaining outdoor plants indoors. But, as with indoor plants, these plants would adapt to the new environment, without much fuss. In any case, I never kept them indoors for longer than a week.

Provide support

Plants that are left out in the open generally get flattened by the rain and wind lashing at them. In the process, some of the branches snap. They will not grow back and will have to be pruned. The rest of the flattened branches will prop back up, soon enough. Plants with tender branches and a flimsy main stalk will have to be staked. You might also need to use twine for added support.

Stakes help plants sturdy themselves and they'll soon be swaying in the breeze.

Prune the plants

Prune the plants, especially the weak and damaged branches. This helps as the plant can concentrate on directing nutrients and its energies in recouping from the trauma and a better chance to recover completely. Removing dying leaves and branches that will end up rotting on the plant will enhance growth and avert disease.

Recognizing root rot

Keep a watch on the plants, if you notice the plant drooping or the foliage blackening or yellowing then you might have a problem at hand. Unseen to the eyes, the excessive rain may have damaged the roots of the plant, setting a condition called root rot.

You can salvage the plant by spraying systematic fungicide to control the problem.

Poor drainage in potted plants

Container gardening is as gratifying as growing plants directly in soil. But, I have lived in apartments, for the most part of my life. And, hence chose to get my hands soiled pottering around potted plants. I have strawberries in containers.

Potted plants with poor drainage will store water and that can be detrimental to the plant. Always, fill the bottom of the pot with loose stones and ensure the soil is not clayey. You need a potting mix that does not retain water.

If the soil in the pot appears wet and there is green moss beginning to grow on it then that indicates a drainage problem.

Additionally, the excessive rain could have destroyed all the useful microorganisms present in the soil, which can have an adverse effect on the plant. It is an opportune time for pests and diseases to attack the plant.

It is advisable to re-pot the plant, with a better potting medium – one that does not retain water. Use a container with ample drainage holes.

Water judiciously

A plant that has seen too much rain needs to be properly cared for. Avoid over-watering. Water the plant once the soil is dry. Check the soil with your fingers, if it feels moist, do not water. Let the soil become relatively dry, before watering it.

Applying fertilizer

Do not feed the plant immediately after the rains. Wait for a few days, and apply fertilizer or compost after you notice the plant looking stronger. Applying fertilizer on a plant that has been under stress would damage it further.

Hope these tips come in handy and help you with your plants. I'd love to know your gardening tips.

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Author: Neeru Bhatt23 Sep 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 2

People who are having gardening as a hobby are very particular and concerned for it. So definitely the information in the article is very useful.
I will suggest that plant lovers should rotate their plant pots frequently from shade to sun and balcony etc which gives them enough strength to face the adverse situations.

Author: Anauj23 Sep 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 3

Yes, plants should be rotated frequently, and this involves moving indoor plants to outdoors. However, care must be taken that indoor plants are not left out for long duration as the direct heat from the sun could cause damage. Indoor plants must be taken out into the open when the sun is mild. The ideal time to do so is in the morning hours or when the sun is not so bright, during the evening.

Not all plants require sharp or direct sun. Many plants thrive under indirect sunlight. This is particularly true of indoor plants.

Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao05 Dec 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 5

I think the author is an allrounder and the author will not leave any subject. My sincere appreciations to the author for her knowledge in so many subjects. The author's contributions are good for ISC.
Rains are required for plants and trees but too much watering is also not good. Anywhere too much is not advisable. So when there is a heavy rain and the plants are completely wet, there is no necessity of watering for some time till the soil completely gets dried. This is a good practice to keep the plants in sunshade so that the excess water and see that the plant will not get spoiled.
An article worth reading for information on taking care of plants.

Author: Anauj23 Jun 2019 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 2

Srinivasa Rao,

Gardening has always been a passion, something that I inherited from my father. Slight rains do not cause much of a problem, it is the heavy downpour that continues for days that causes the most damage. As I have suggested, bringing the plants indoors during a cyclonic storm is one way of protecting them. Another way is to wrap the pot in plastic in such a way that excess rainwater cannot get into it.

When we lived in Wellington and Delhi, I used to protect my plants from frost and severe winters by covering them with cardboard cartons. The plants survived spells of cold weather.

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