Ferns....drought......

I have about a thousand sq ft of fern beds. I suspect they are Ostrich ferns (some get to 5ft high). Northern Illinois is currently under extreme drought conditions. I am trying to water the ferns but must admit I can't keep up with evaporation and they are beginning to show stress. About 25% of them have shrivelled up and the others all have some sign of stress. My question: If they shrivel up, will they come back next year? Just how hardy are they? If a plant shrivels up, do I stop watering because its dead or does it leave runners that grow new plants next year? WHat can I expect next spring if I stop watering? I would like to focus my watering on the big trees (the 100ft tall black cherries are the worst). IF it doesnt rain soon, I fear the loss of some marvelous trees. I can only do so much with a garden hose. THe hostas, daylilies, peonies will have to fend for themselves. sigh....
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Boy it sounds like you folks are getting hit hard.
Consider mulch to retain what moisture you add or get. Ferns are pretty tough down her in S Jersey and may come back even if they look real bad. Consider a drip hose as it loses less water to evaporation. 50 ft for about oh $8 . A Guess. String 5 together for say section 1. Add other sections as you can afford. You may encounter water restrictions in time as gardens are low on the priority of most towns. I hope relief comes soon and not in a drastic manner.
Global Warming......?
We are getting rain every day and would love to send some your way.
Best
Bill
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If they really are ostrich ferns they'll come back next year just fine. They are hardier than the devil.
-paghat the ratgirl
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: : Consider mulch to retain what moisture you add or get. Ferns are pretty : tough down her in S Jersey and may come back even if they look real bad. : Consider a drip hose as it loses less water to evaporation. 50 ft : for about oh $8 . A Guess. String 5 together for say section 1. Add : other sections as you can afford. You may encounter water restrictions : in time as gardens are low on the priority of most towns. I hope : relief comes soon and not in a drastic manner. : : Global Warming......? : : We are getting rain every day and would love to send some your way. : : Best : : : Bill :
On that note, you can get darn good soaker hoses at Sams Club, two for $9.00
Kate
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ferns
drought
question:
they?
leave
the
THe
I'm in SW Ohio and it has been VERY dry and hot here. My ostrich ferns have virtually disappeared, even with regular watering. They tend to do this each year and come back in the spring bigger than ever.
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Vox Humana wrote:

I'm in Northeast OH. It's VERY dry and hot here too. My ferns and even a few hostas (Francis Williams) disappeared right after they came up. Of course, they're planted in a spot where it's difficult to water, but they did get some. My Annabelle Hydrangia is always beautiful, but it too is suffering. I can't even get the plumbago to bloom much.
Maybe it rained three times since spring. Maybe. Only one was a good soak.
It's good weather for camping and baseball though.
Jean
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have
My sister lives in Mentor and has complained about too much rain nearly all spring and summer.
Some of my hostas have suffered, especially in the more remote areas that I can't easily water. My astilbies were horrible this year. The ones that get little water have disappeared. Last year they put on a big show, but not now. That bed look really horrible because it has ferns, hostas, and daylilies that have all but gone dormant. Oh well, there's always next year.
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Ferns will come back. In fact when it gets hot and dry and they start looking bad I cut them off with the lawnmower and they come back the next year thicker than ever.
Marv-Montezuma, IA http://community.webshots.com/user/vmwood
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On drought: I understand about it first hand. When you get that dry, it is hard to get the water to go into the ground. One thing I learned to do, which helped the plants as well as the trees, was to take a long screwdriver and pound it into the ground with a hammer. Shake it back and forth and do it again and again. What water you do apply will go into the holes instead of just sliding off.
You are right in that the trees have to come first. Good luck with the ferns. The soaker hoses work pretty well after you make the holes.
Sterling
Jmagerl wrote:

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That's the hard way. You can also spray a mild surfactant, let it soak in a bit, water lightly, let that soak in a bit, and then water more deeply.

Drought stress can be very tough on trees and shrubs, and often sets them up for significant insect or fungal problems. Sometimes the signs of drought stress don't show up for a year or two. Here are some pretty good recommendations: http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/4DMG/Trees/caring.htm http://www.invillapark.com/vpnwtr.htm
Consider 2-3" of mulch under the trees; it'll help prevent water loss as you water and kill the grass under the trees (a big source of water loss). Tree trimming companies are often willing to give you a whole truckload of mulch for free. I prefer to watch for crews clearing power lines or widening roads before asking... better chance of healthy material. Or lay out big sheets of corrugated cardboard or thickish layer of newspapers to kill the grass -- you can water underneath utility mulches like these pretty easily.
As for the ferns, I'd let the tops die back but give the roots a good soak once a month during the drought, if possible. Ostrich ferns -- these guys: http://www.ct-botanical-society.org/ferns/matteucciastru.html -- are pretty tough, but they are native to moist soils.
Kay
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Kay Lancaster wrote:

One way to tell if the tree is in trouble is to go out early in the morning and look at the tops. If the leaves look limp in the morning it is a sure sign of danger. Everything looks limp by afternoon...

Absolutely!!!
I also discovered that the pine straw mulch is only "decorative". The pine bark mini-nuggets hold the water better than anything I have found. They do deteriorate faster than the big nuggets but really hold the water. I like the color better than the 'fresh ground' from the tree people.
Drought is so hard. Right now Atlanta is suffering from too much water. It has rained so much this summer, I have only had to do outside watering twice! Lots of mildew and fungus and my patio is turning green. Gazillions of mosquitoes. Have to mow the grass in segments as it rains so much. Still it is better than drought...
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Let me add that you should keep the mulch away from the tree trunk about 6" or so, and that oaks really, really don't like to have any change in soil level -- so I wouldn't mulch an oak. But all the species of Prunus (the op's question) I've mulched have been fine with it.
Kay
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