Hip Waders

We slogged through June in hip waders amidst the leaden, gray malaise, the air largely unstable and ostensibly resentful, like a teenage girl scorned.  The few sunny days provided fleeting relief, but we were wary and suspicious, and we were right to be.  Here’s hoping July delivers the sweet promise of summer.

With the amount of rain we’ve received, certain problems are becoming apparent, and it’s important we interpret the issues correctly in order to rectify them.  Part of the process is simply paying attention and listening to just exactly what our plants are trying to tell us.

Insufficient Light

Spindly Perennials

Plants that are not getting enough sunlight start to look leggy and spindly, with the internodal space (area between leaves) appearing unusually large.  Some plants may look pale and sickly while others may die.  To correct the problem, invite more sunlight, perhaps by pruning trees in the area and/or moving the plants to an area that receives more sun.  You can always swap out the sun lovers for more shade tolerant plants.

Poor Drainage

Poor Drainage

Some plants don’t mind having wet feet, while many prefer well-drained soil.  The latter, in wet conditions, may yellow, brown, wilt and eventually die.  To rectify, correct the drainage issue and/or look to plants that are tolerant of water.

Chemical Damage

Chemical Damage

Herbicides and fertilizers can both cause discoloration, twisted, gnarled stems and foliage, brown spots, and death.  Most likely, plants will need to be replaced, depending on the severity of the damage.  Take great caution when spraying, and spray when winds are minimal, preferably still.

Excessive Light

Scorched Perennials

Not all plants need lots of sunlight.  In fact, some plants prefer partial to full shade.  When these plants experience too much sun, they may look pale, scorched, withered, and burned.  Consider moving these plants to a shadier area or replace them with sun-loving plants.


Insect Damage

Insects can cause a whole host of problems, resulting in twisted, distorted foliage, holes, browning, bumps, discoloration, streaks, mottling, etc., and sometimes death.  Some plants are known to have particular insect issues, so treat accordingly.  When in doubt, do a little research or reach out to Sweeney’s.  We’ll help you pinpoint the culprit and suggest a treatment.


Drought Damage

Fortunately, this is a non-issue thus far this summer.  Drought stricken plants may warp, wither, brown and develop brown tips and yellowing leaves.  Water accordingly to resolve.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrient Deficiency

Plants may manifest nutrient deficiencies with yellow veins and/or pale leaves.  Fertilize accordingly per the plant’s specific requirements.

Fungal Infections

Mildew Plants

Plants may discolor or have spotted or mildewy leaves with a powdery film.  Treat the fungus accordingly with fungicides.

If we just stop and listen, we can learn a lot from our plants.  They are constantly trying to communicate with us, so it’s time we enter the conversation as active and empathetic partners.

“A garden requires patient labor and attention.  Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions.  They thrive because someone expended effort on them.”
-Liberty Hyde Bailey

4th of July

Best wishes for a safe and happy 4th of July,

Kim Sweeney