COLUMBIA, Mo. – The excessive spring rains could put plants at risk when Missouri weather turns dry and hot.

“The big problem that plants have right now is there is no reason for them to send down a deep root system since all they need in life is near the soil surface,” said David Trinklein, horticulture specialist for University of Missouri Extension. “When warm temperatures and dry conditions arrive, these plants will be in trouble.”

This means you will need to be ready to mulch these plants.

“Don’t mulch when it’s raining so much, but have mulch on hand and ready when the rain stops,” Trinklein said. “The mulch will help conserve water and control weeds, which are real robbers of water from our garden plants.”

The best way to prepare for dry conditions is to choose the right plants. Missouri’s fickle weather can jump from cold to hot or wet to dry in the blink of an eye.

“We really need to select species that can withstand drought,” Trinklein said. “If you choose to grow food crops or ornamentals that can’t tolerate hot summers without water, then you either need to be ready to do supplemental irrigation or don’t grow those species.”

Irrigation costs time and effort as well as money. Trinklein said you need to ask yourself how much you are going to be able to water.

Tomatoes are a good example. “Growing tomatoes without the ability to water is really a waste of time in Missouri,” Trinklein said. “If we have a summer with lots of rain, you’ll likely lose tomatoes if you don’t spray for foliar diseases. If we have a summer with little or no rain, you’ll likely lose tomatoes to blossom end rot.”

If watering is a problem, Trinklein said, it’s best to choose drought-tolerant vegetables like green beans and sweet corn.

“When all is said and done, gardeners are at the mercy of nature,” he said.

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