Droopy Leaves are Not a Good Thing

Droopy Dawg

Mrs. Homegrown here:

So I just learned I’ve been taken in by a popular myth. You know how in the summer, the leaves of some plants go droopy in the heat of midday, then bounce back when it cools off? I’d heard…somewhere…who knows how these things get planted in your brain…that this was nothing to worry about. I’d also heard that was ineffectual, anyway, to water them midday.

Well, I was wrong. Erik just sent me a link to a post from one of his favorite blogs, WSU Extension’s The Garden Professors titled Hot Weather and Not-So-Hot Advice, which scientifically refutes this myth, and gives us permission to water midday, if necessary, to save the plants.

In a nutshell, droop is bad. Droop is stress. There should be no droop.

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  1. With the crazy heat wave in the Bay Area, i’ve been watering my tomatoes twice a day and they STILL droop midday. Seriously concerned about BER from all the dry/wet yo-yo’ing.

  2. I do water droopy leaved plants with one exception: cucumbers. Their leaves are so big and thin that it doesn’t seem to matter how much water they have – they will always droop midday if it’s hot. Mine are droopy as I write, in fact, and we had a half inch of rain yesterday.

  3. That’s wonderful advice… for people that live in Washington. When it’s 118˚ with 2% humidity I’m guessing that it’s scientifically impossible for water uptake to stay even with evapotranspiration. So for those of us in the desert, I’m not so sure this is applicable.

  4. I agree with Rachel. We could leave water trickling on the garden plants all day long and they would still droop mid-day. In fact, we’ve found that watering them mid-day in these conditions just weakens the plants. Then again, these are varieties somewhat adapted to being grown in hot and arid conditions, so perhaps that makes a difference.

  5. Whew, that is good to know. We live in Nebraska. It is sometimes warm and windy. The plants dry and droop. We feel sorry for them. Noon, four, or whenever, we run out and water them. They perk up within an hour. We are new to gardening. Retired a year and having fun getting to plant live things or seeds and surprised at how much is living and growing. Soon the yellow tomatoes will be in our salads.

  6. Meh, I think it depends on the plant, quality of soil, location, and the method of watering. My drip hoses are basically buried in mulch and all the summertime plants are doing well, tomatoes, basil, sunflowers, corn, etc. The lettuce I am growing for seed and the broccoli are having a time of it, except the broccoli growing in the shade of my neighbor’s maple. Lettuce and broccoli aren’t really built for performing in the heat of summer in direct sunlight, so it makes sense that they droop. I’ll have to replant for fall harvest for those because their production will be low. If my sunflowers were droopy, we would have a problem

  7. probably most effective to mist the leaves of the droopers midday. The roots aren’t able to supply enough water to keep up with the evaporation from the leaves, and it would seem that even supplying more water to the roots then wouldnt help.

    And it does make sense that if the wilting is severe enough it will damage some leaves internally. For blossom end rot try foliar feeding with something with calcium. Early in the day

  8. I agree the droop is stress, but is the solution to water whenever they droop? How does this balance against advice for less frequent but deeper watering to encourage deeper root development?

    Of course here in SE Texas, I usually rip everything out of the garden from mid-July to mid-August because the drooping never ceases.

  9. For the dry arid climates, mulch and shadecloth both make a huge difference in drooping. It seems unbelievable to me, but a local organic mini-farm still has beautiful looking chard….in 100+ degree weather here. The difference between theirs and mine which cooked in the sun well over a month ago? Shadecloth and mulch, not more watering.

    I think it’s important to remember there are very different growing conditions across this diverse country.

  10. I think the takeaway here is simply that drooping is a stress indicator. As a gardener you note that, and take action as appropriate for you region. The solution might be more water, or deeper water, or mulch, or shade cloth, or maybe a resolution to try planting earlier or later in the year, or to try a different variety, etc. & etc.

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