Nature’s Resilience

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Flood waters have been quite extensive in our area leaving damage to buildings, roads, homes, vehicles and bridges. Flooding to your home or landscape can be quite devastating especially if you remember all the time and energy that was invested to make it appealing.

As flood waters are receding you often find a covering of debris and an unforgettable odor. Carefully remove limbs, twigs, seedpods and the larger debris with gloved hands or a rake. If silt is covering the foliage of evergreen plants, it is beneficial to survival and regrowth to remove it. First try removing the silt with a spray of water. Do not resort to a pressure washer that can result in additional damage to leaves and stems. A solution of one tablespoon of dish washing detergent in a gallon of water may be used. Be sure to rinse the soap off the foliage with a spray of water.

Oxygen has been lacking in the soil for many days and many plants appear dead. Most deciduous landscape plants will defoliate immediately. Some hardy evergreens may hold on to their leaves.

Plants suffering from too much water often resemble plants that have too little water because in both cases roots cannot supply the needed water to the leaves. Water damaged plant roots will darken in color.

Experience has shown that your landscape may partially recover depending on the plants.

Plants that have shown to survive after two weeks under floodwaters include most natives. Other plants that frequently recover include crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia) and Chinese Holly (Ilex rotunda).

Plants that do not like wet feet usually have low survival rates. These include Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata), Japanese Boxwood (Buxus microphylla japonica), Indian Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis), Junipers (Juniperus), hybrid azaleas (Rhododendron).

The shock from flooding to the plants may result in a dormancy. Be patient with your plants and do not use high nitrogen fertilizer on trees and shrubs at this time of year. It is possible to salvage some of your landscape if you have the time and patience to wait for regrowth.

Written By

Photo of Peg GodwinPeg GodwinExtension Agent, Agriculture - Horticulture (252) 527-2191 (Office) peg_godwin@ncsu.eduLenoir County, North Carolina
Posted on Oct 31, 2016
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