How to protect your plants from too much rainfall

SnapJAX user AQueenB24 shared this photo showing some of the rainfall we've gotten recently. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Widespread rain chances continue Wednesday. For you and your garden, that might mean too much rain.

Recent headlines across the nation have been focused on the heat and lack of rain — that is, until the last week. Locally, rounds of rain have hammered down, leaving puddles and in some cases small ponds.

What happens when too much rain falls too quickly?

Some plants hate wet “feet” as much as cats do. Lavender and carnations can succumb to wet roots in as little as a day or two. Lilies and some flowering irises will lose some roots due to rot but are generally hardy enough to thrive as long the sogginess ends. It’s not just flowering plants, though; newly planted evergreens can also suffocate in soggy soil.

Unfortunately, there is not much we can do as farmers after the fact, but there is something we can do ahead of time to help prevent soil from holding water. This preventative step starts with the soil and flower beds.

Start with making sure your flower beds have good drainage. This can be done at planting time or by planting plants in raised rows, leaving room for water to drain. As soil and debris wash into the channels, make sure they are cleared so the water will flow away from the plants and roots.

Look for evidence that the soil isn’t draining properly. Some of the evidence can be a rust color on the surface of the soil, mushrooms or fungus.

During rain events, look for further clues of erosion or standing water, both of which can have a negative impact on your plants. If soil washes away, roots can be exposed to heat and disease. Standing water can lead to “wet feet.”

Lastly, as much as you may want to dig in and save your plants, wait. Yes, wait.

Stomping around and digging in wet soil leads to compaction and reduces the soil’s ability to allow water to percolate and roots to breathe. Once the surrounding soil is dry enough, add trenches or raised beds. Another option is aeration, which can be done with a hand-aerating tool by poking lots of holes with a wooden dowel.

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