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Green In Spite Of Drought

Even there may be a drought in some parts of the country, don't give up on your garden. Gardening contributor Charlie Dimmock visits The Early Show to tell us how to cheer up your wilting flowers and how to plant in drought conditions.

Rainfall is the best way for a plant to get watered. Without it, such vital biological processes as photosynthesis (the way a plant feeds) and transpiration (the way a plant is protected from wilting) are affected. In turn, that upsets the development of roots and shoots, flowers, and fruit,

For optimum growth, plants need a steady supply of water, though in reality, rainfall is variable in both frequency and quantity. During the summer, we quite often have drought conditions when the temperature and the sunlight levels are high.

Wilting is the first sign of drought. Plants cope by shutting down the stomata (pores in the leaves), which stops it from losing so much water. In the long term, this isn't good for the plant.

Plants from dry conditions over many years have adapted by having leaves that are gray, hairy, glossy, fleshy, or narrow -- or by not having leaves at all. Succulents, for example, have special water storing tissue in stems, leaves and roots.

Plants that thrive in drought conditions are: Cerastium, Cytissus, Nepeta, Sedum, Thymus, Achillea, Osteospermum and Juniper.

For areas low in water fall, here are some tips:

  • Remove weeds as they will be using up valuable water.
  • Dig in organic matter to help the plant hold water in the soil rather than it draining through.
  • Add mulch. Mulching helps trap moisture; the moisture that is there doesn't evaporate so quickly. It also regulates the soil temperature so that you don't get extremes.
  • Beware of where you are planting. Large trees, buildings, and fences produce a rain shadow.
  • Water early in the morning or when it is cool in the evening; the water won't evaporate so quickly. Also, if you water at the cooler ends of the day, you won't get leaf scorch. But if you have a plant that is wilting badly, do water it immediately, regardless of the time of day, to avoid damage.
  • If you are planting up a new area that is prone to drought, choose the plants that will be happy in Mediterranean or desert conditions.
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