B. Rosie Lerner
Purdue Extension


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Gardening Can Be Hail

Many gardeners, myself included, have had their lovely flowers flattened by hail in recent weeks. Trees and shrubs have had many leaves ripped from the stem, leaving a carpet of drying foliage on the yard and in the house gutters. And it seems that we're not out of the woods yet, as more storms are predicted in coming days.

So what can you do to help plants recover from such damage? The answer depends on the specifics: which plants are affected, the stage of plant development, and as always, what other environmental stressors are at work.

The good news is that for woody trees and shrubs and perennial flowers, there is plenty of growing season left to make a decent recovery. While blooms are likely to be sacrificed, the plants will live on.

Both woody and herbaceous perennials will likely grow new foliage to replace the damaged leaves. The plants may look a bit ragged in the meantime. Trim back broken perennials to help stimulate re-growth. Check woody plants for broken and badly bruised limbs, pruning the damaged portions as needed. Make a clean cut back to healthy tissue, and avoid leaving stubs of partial branches.

For annual flowers and vegetables, some plants will be able to re-grow while others may need to be replaced. The relatively prolonged, cool spring has resulted in a rather slow gardening season this year, so plants may already have been behind in their development. The hail damage will be another setback.

Bedding flowers that are normally pinched during the growing season, such as petunias, impatiens, zinnias, and marigolds, are quite likely to come out of the damage fairly quickly. Leafy greens may recover, but if stems of fruiting plants, such as tomatoes, peppers and squash are broken, it is better to replant.

Give the plants a week or so to assess the amount of recovery. If plants appear to be re-growing, clean up the broken, dead foliage as best you can.

If you haven't already fertilized, a light application may help speed along recovery. Even plants that were fertilized earlier this spring might need a booster application to replace that lost during frequent heavy rains.


Writer: B. Rosie Lerner
Editor: Olivia Maddox