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Tips to Weather Too Much Rain in the Garden

Pam Bennett, horticulture educator with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University, said wet conditions can lead to three main concerns for gardens: root death, diseases and weeds.

“Hopefully by now, the water has drained. If not, you may have some trouble with your plants,” said Bennett, who is also the state Master Gardener Volunteer coordinator for Ohio State University Extension, the college’s outreach arm.

“Plant roots need oxygen; they need that air in order to grow. When they sit in water for a period of time, that leads to root rot and lack of oxygen, and eventually possibly death. So you need to watch your plants. If they start to turn yellow, you may have to remove them.”

Despite the abundance of rain in recent weeks, Bennett said gardeners shouldn’t become complacent and assume that their plants have all the water they need.

“If you have really good drainage, don’t let this time go by thinking that you don’t need to water just because we have had a lot of rain,” she said. “When we get temperatures in the 80s and 90s, plants are going to dry out fairly quickly, so you really need to pay attention to watering needs in the garden and landscape.”

Prolonged rainy weather can also lead to disease problems.

“When we get a lot of moisture on foliage for a period of time, and then we get the right weather conditions, you may see leaf spot diseases and other problems occur,” Bennett said.

“When you see disease symptoms, it’s too late to spray. You have to have those fungicides on the plant before the problems occur. The best thing to do in that case is to pull off any of the diseased leaves, eliminate them from the garden because of potential secondary infection, and hopefully the new growth won’t be as affected.”

The third issue gardeners may be experiencing is weeds, whose growth is aided by rain and warm temperatures.

“It’s very important to get out there and pull those weeds before they go to seed,” Bennett said. “If you let weeds go to seed, you are going to cause more problems for yourself next year.

“Once you get the weeds cleaned out, you can use a pre-emergent herbicide, mulch or newspaper with grass clippings on top. Use something that is going to prevent future weed growth from occurring.”

For help with your gardening or landscape questions regardless of weather conditions, contact your local OSU Extension office or submit your question online to OSU Extension’s Ask a Master Gardener service.