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Picking Up The Pieces From A Hail Damaged Garden

Dean Shareski
Flickr - Creative Commons

Gardeners battle all sorts of conditions in an effort to get things to grow. Hailstorms pose a unique challenge to healing injured plants. After surveying a garden following a severe storm it may appear all is lost, but the fresh frustrations after the storm can make it seem much worse than it actually is.

Annuals, including both flowers and vegetables, are the most hail forgiving.  These plants are programmed to grow, flower and seed all in one season. A little pruning and careful watering bring annuals back to carry on with their mission. Prune off broken parts as closely to the healthy stem as possible. If there is no healthy stem, pull the plant.

Clean up as much of the leaf debris as possible as rotting leaves can spread disease. A fan shaped leaf rake, back-pack blowers or leaf vacuum all will work.

While it’s important to keep the damaged garden moist, over-watering can add to the rotting disease problems the hail started. Under-watering can further stress the already shocked plants. Moderate, regular watering is best, but let the soil dry out in between watering so the roots get as much air as water.

The hail may have cut off the annual flower blooms, but it may encourage a stronger summer flowering. This is fine for regular flowers, but for vegetables it may be a problem. Peppers and tomatoes need over thirty days to bloom, set fruit, and ripen.

For perennial shrubs and trees, prune off broken leaves and branches. A light fertilization will encourage new growth. Regularly monitor shrubs and trees where the bark is damaged. If the wounds don’t begin to heal within a few weeks, they can become entry sites for diseases or insects.

The plants will only bare the scars of the hail for a few months. By next month, we probably won't even remember these passing thunderstorms.

Tom has been offering garden advice on KUNC for almost two decades. During that time he has been the wholesale sales manager at Ft. Collins Nursery, Inc. Since January of 2005 he has been the owner and operator of Throgmorton Plant Management, LLC., a landscape installation and maintenance company as well as a horticultural consulting firm. He lives in northern Ft. Collins with his wife and two kids.
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