Feast or Famine out West; a deluge in the drought

Hail-damaged perennial after clean up pruning

Hail-damaged perennial after clean-up pruning

The Four Corners region of the Southwestern US (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico) is suffering yet another in an long string of regional droughts that have occurred in this area across the millennia. Here in my Santa Fe gardens and around town, I’m taking front seat to the effects of this multiyear drought on the city’s xeriscapes. Previous to yesterday’s cloud burst, the rain gauge in my front portal had recorded about 2 ½” of precipitation since the start of 2013. It’s been really, really dry.

But as global warming has pumped so much more energy into the Earth’s weather systems, the weather events we are now experiencing are often more extreme. Thus, when we got our first real rain of this year it was a monster; 2 ½” of rain fell in about 25 minutes across portions of Santa Fe bringing with it a lot of hail. I hate hail……. Hail and mosquitoes; twin plagues of the planet. But all you can do is clean up.

And here is how to revive your hail damaged perennials. These are a very resilient group of plants that have the potential to bounce back quickly with a little first aid. The key is to cut them back to where you find some undamaged foliage and clean-up all the leaves and debris left behind after the hail has shredded the foliage and stems. Clean-up is essential as it prevents disease from attacking the crowns of the plant, the result of moisture and rotting leaves lying over and around the bases of their stems.

Hail-damaged perennial - Before

Hail-damaged perennial - before.

Then a couple of days later, after the plants have healed a bit, I like to provide some energy to help revive them. I spray an organic foliar fertilizer over the remaining foliage. My favorite is Soil Mender™ Foliar Plus. I pull out a ready-to- use bottle that attaches to the end of your hose which makes it easy to apply these essential nutrients. I do this a couple of times, a couple of weeks apart. And while I’m out in the garden I spray any foliage left on my trees and shrubs too. In about a month or so the perennials will have recovered and come back to good health. And many of them will re-bloom to brighten your garden a little later in the growing season.

Text and photos by David Salman

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