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....
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.
We are getting rain every day and would love to send some your way.
Garden Shade Zone 5 in a Japanese Jungle manner.
Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets. To plant a pine,
: 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.
On that note, you can get darn good soaker hoses at Sams Club, two for $9.00
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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...
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...
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.
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