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why do plants wilt on a hot summer day

The complex structure of the plant gives the plant itself the ability to lose and gain water. The root hair cells which have the same ability as xylem, controls the loss and of water. The pressure called the root pressure which exists in the root hair cells exerted on the plant cell causes the plant to lose water by transpiration, the loss of water by evaporation. In a hot summer day, the stomata close to conserve water. The amount of water loss is influenced by factors which includes wind, light intensity, humidity and temperature. As the temperature and light intensity is higher on a hot day, the loss of water is increased. Plants with a thicker cellular structure and the tendency to store more water than other plants such as cactus have the ability to survive and minimize the effect of wilting.
Plants mainly wilt during high temperatures because their transpiration rate exceeds the rate at which they can absorb water, says Virginia Tech horticulture professor Bonnie Appleton.

Plant leaves have oodles and oodles of tiny holes call stomata, or pores, which allow vapor to escape. A plant regulates the rate of transpiration according to its water requirements and the weather. "If they wilt during the day, but recover at night, then there is adequate soil moisture," says Appleton. If plants don't recover at night when temperatures cool down and when their transpiration rate drops, then the soil has run out of available water and irrigation is needed. Hydrangea likes to wilt during the day, then often recover at night, something I witness often in my own garden. Cucumber and squash also exhibit this behavior. But, if the weather is temperate, the soil moist and the rains regular -- and you still have wilting leaves, you may have root rot, according to York extension agent Jim Orband. "With root rot, the plant is not able to take water up, therefore you get wilting," he says.

Whenever you water your plants, take the time to soak them thoroughly, using soaker hoses, if you can. Trees that are less than two years old need careful attention because they are still developing root systems; established trees can get through mild droughts without supplemental water. And, when you design flower beds and plantings for trees and shrubs, group them according to their water needs -- don't put plants that like it dry in the same area as plants that like it moist. Also, you lawn should be watered separately from your flowers and shrubs because grass needs far more moisture than ornamentals do. For an excellent article on how to effectively water, visit North Carolina extension at www. bae. ncsu. edu/programs/extension/publicat/wqwm/ag508_6. html. If you don't have a computer and want a copy of this article, send me a note requesting it and a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Kathy Van Mullekom, Daily Press, 7505 Warwick Blvd. , Newport News, 23607.

JUDGE THE BASKETS. You'll find some good ideas for combining plant textures and colors in the 10 flower baskets on display at Riverwalk Landing along the waterfront at Yorktown. You can also help judge those baskets for a floral design competition sponsored by the York County Economic Development Authority and the Riverwalk Landing Business Association. Participants in the contest include Walter Reed, Gloucester and Mathews garden clubs; Willow's Fine Flowers and Gifts; Claire Murray store; Nikki Cooper and Jack and Nancy Kane (with plants provided by Charlie's Produce and Nursery in York County); The Southern Yankee, York master gardener Claire Britcher and Anderson's Home and Garden Showplace. Prizes for best design will be awarded on Labor Day, so hurry and cast your ballot in a voting box at the Claire Murray store at Riverwalk. For details, contact Sherry Rougeau at 877-3353.

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