Effects Of Defoliation On Grasses
The following are some of the common effects of defoliation:
1) Leaves turn brown and die.
2) Stems become stunted and wither away.
3) Roots die off completely.
4) Flowers lose their colour and shrivel up.
5) Flowering stages disappear altogether!
(See image below. Note the flowers have all withered up!)
What Should You Do?
You need to do something about it. There are several things you can do:
a) Remove any dead leaves or branches from your garden. They will not only make your plants look ugly, but they may even cause them to rot faster! If you cannot remove these dead parts, then you should at least move them away from where they might get into contact with other plants.
b) Try to keep the soil moist so that the roots don’t dry out too quickly. This will prevent them from getting root rot. However, if you have a sandy soil, then you must use composted manure instead of regular potting mix to avoid problems with excessive moisture loss.
c) Use mulch around your plants when possible. Mulching helps retain water in the ground and prevents excess evaporation which could lead to drought conditions later on in the growing season. It also helps to keep the soil cool, which is very beneficial during hot weather.
d) Plant something that will act as a windbreak and protect your garden from strong winds. A tall growing plant that has a dense growth of stalks will be most effective. I have had good results with sunflowers (see image below).
e) Plant a row of tall growing plants along the north edge of your garden. This will help to block out strong winds that come off the ocean before they even reach your garden. The plants in the image below were grown from seeds for the express purpose of acting as a windbreak. As you can see they are working very well!
f) If you haven’t already done so, plant something that will act as a shade canopy over your garden. This will provide some relief for your plants during the hottest part of the day.
g) Apply a layer of mulch around the base of your plants. This will conserve moisture, keep the soil cool, and help to prevent weeds from growing in that area.
h) Check to see if there are any tree limbs that may be blocking the sunlight from reaching your garden. If so, have them removed. This will prevent over shading which can affect the quality and quantity of your harvests.
i) You could try adding more nitrogen to your soil. This can be done by mulching with green plant matter, or through applications of liquid fertilizer (fish emulsion works well for this). Nitrogen is a necessary nutrient for good leaf development.
j) Improve the air circulation around your plants by removing any nearby trees or shrubs that are casting shade on your garden.
k) If your plants are in pots, you could move them to a bright sunny area. This might help to improve their health. Just be sure to give them plenty of water.
l) You could try adding more shade to your garden. This can be accomplished by planting tall growing shade tolerant plants between the gaps in your other plants. Please make sure to leave enough space so that the plants will have enough room to grow.
m) Keep doing what you’re doing and hope for the best.
Once you have chosen your strategy, you must implement it as soon as possible. Remember, the health of your garden depends on it!
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Sources & references used in this article:
The effects of defoliation on carbon allocation: can carbon limitation reduce growth in favour of storage? by E Wiley, S Huepenbecker, BB Casper… – Tree …, 2013 – academic.oup.com
Effects of defoliation on competitive interactions in European white birch by M Augner, J Tuomi, M Rousi – Ecology, 1997 – Wiley Online Library
Plant adaptation in an ecosystem context: effects of defoliation, nitrogen, and water on growth of an African C4 sedge by SJ McNaughton, LL Wallace, MB Coughenour – Ecology, 1983 – Wiley Online Library
Effects of defoliation on reproductive success in two orchids, Serapias vomeracea and Dactylorhiza sambucina by G Pellegrino, A Musacchio – Annales Botanici Fennici, 2006 – JSTOR
Clonal integration and effects of simulated herbivory in old-field perennials by B Schmid, GM Puttick, KH Burgess, FA Bazzaz – Oecologia, 1988 – Springer
Long-term effects of defoliation on quaking aspen in relation to genotype and nutrient availability: plant growth, phytochemistry and insect performance by TL Osier, RL Lindroth – Oecologia, 2004 – Springer