Every once in a while we gardeners get a clear illustration of the effects of environmental factors in the growth of plants. Here are two that happened at my house recently – I’m sure you can come up with lots of additional examples.
I seeded ‘Pomegranate’ lettuce in March and transplanted the seedlings into 2-inch cells when they had first true leaves. Then, due to space issues, I put half the seedlings under lights inside and half out on my enclosed back porch (it has vinyl windows that slide down over the screens, so is protected from wind, but only a few degrees warmer than outside). The back porch seedlings got direct morning sun but no additional light. Here’s the difference a couple of weeks later:
The back porch seedlings will be fine for transplanting in another week or so, but they’ll take some time to catch up to the others. Both the warmer temperatures inside and the close-up light over the seedlings made a huge difference.
Another more severe effect happened during that day-long blast of frigid wind on Tuesday. I went out in the morning and walked under the arbor where my Siberian or kolomikta kiwis grow (different species than the larger hardy kiwi, Actinidia arguta, but with a similar zone range, i.e. perfectly hardy in 7a). Everything looked fine then, but when I next looked in the late afternoon, nearly all the leaves were badly desiccated by the persistent wind – or frozen, or both.
They still look like this today. I’m hoping to see some recovery in the next week, but it’s possible the plants will lose the leaves and flower buds. They’ve been doing fine for several years, so I guess we’ve just never had that particular kind of wind at this time of year (or stage of leaf growth) before.
I must add that the Derwood demo garden team was also blasted by the cold and wind on Tuesday morning – our first workday of the season! – but at least we could go inside to warm up. No such luck for plants.