Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Advice for Droopy Plants

Are your plants droopy? Don’t water them just yet, suggests native plant expert Nan Sterman.

The extreme heat is taking a toll on all of us, including our plants. Even our California natives and climate-appropriate plants are taking a beating. Here’s some advice from garden writer Nan Sterman, passed along to use by garden designer Judy Horton. Sterman, based in Southern California, is an author and landscape designer, best known for her books on landscaping with California Natives.

“It’s hot. Really hot. Your plants’ leaves may look wilted in the heat, but don’t water them during the day,” warns Sterman.  Instead, Sterman recommends holding off on watering when you see your plant’s leaves drooping for two reasons.

First, in heat like this, plants lose water through their leaves faster than the roots replace it – thus the droopy leaves, explains Sterman. But overnight, she says, the roots catch up…and by morning, the plant should look fine. Since that’s the case, adding more water to the soil won’t help.  Which leads us to the second reason not to water:   warm, wet soil is the perfect breeding ground for Phytophthora and other soil fungi that cause root rot and kill natives, protea family plants, and other drought tolerant plants.

“I’ve seen so many times when people water native and drought tolerant landscapes in the heat – with the best intents, only to find their plants yellow and die right afterwards,” wrote Sterman.

So don’t worry too much about your droopy plants – there’s a good chance they’re doing just what they’re meant to do in weather like this!

These plants are pretty droopy now, hopefully, they will recover this evening. They are watered drip irrigation below the leaves so soil stays moist during the hot days.
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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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