7 Tips to Protect Your Garden from Flood Damage

Bloom where Planted


Rain Gardens Protect Flooded AreasFlooding can wreck havoc with your garden plants. Roots suffocate in standing water and, if submerged long enough, will die. Large, healthy plants or bog loving plants have a better chance of surviving flood damage than do young or ornamental plants.

Although it is unlikely plants will survive a flood, there are precautions a homeowner can take to protect plants before and after flooding occurs.

After a flood, be patient and let plants heal. Once the water recedes, check for broken limbs and remove them. Leaves may be lightly sprayed to remove any debris.

Not all flood damage is immediate. It can take years for stress or rot to kill a plant. Look for curled, wilted leaves with yellow edges. This indicates water stress. Also, notice any new fungi or cankers that emerge on plants or mushrooms that sprout at the base of a plant. These are signs of rot. Insect damage may also arise. Herbicides and fungicides, used as directed, may be applied to limit further damage.

Take a soil test before adding fertilizer near the plants. Soil composition and nutrient levels may have changed significantly after flooding, and a test will reveal the right amount of fertilizer needed. Applying to much fertilizer to a stressed plant could harm it further.

Tips to protect gardens in flood-prone areas:

  • Amend clay soils with mulches, sticks or rocks to improve drainage.
  • Create berms to divert water away from tender perennials.
  • Build ditches, swales or furrows to divert runoff water away from yards. Contact the local utility or road department for advice. They may even build a ditch if property is donated.
  • Make rain gardens or ponds to slow runoff and act as a water filter.
  • Plant water-loving plants: willows, bald cypress, flag Iris, elephant ears, elderberries and red or silver maples. Contact the County Extension Agent or local Master Gardener Program for a list of water-loving plants that are native to the area.
  • Use raised beds or moveable containers to keep flood waters away from plants.
  • Wherever possible, create permeable landscapes to slow runoff.

Careful landscape planning, use of appropriate plants, and gentle care after a flood, will protect gardens and help plants survive in flood-prone areas.

Happy Gardening!


Landscape Design and Management, Mississippi State University, Extension Services

Flood Damage Cleanup, Gardenknowhow.com, by Nikki Tilly


Winter Gardens

swiss chard

WHEN choosing plants for winter gardens, consider plants that bolt quickly in the heat of spring, such as lettuce and spinach. Another tip to keep in mind is that plants with short growing seasons, such as chives and radish, will also grow well in the fall. These plants thrive in cooler temperatures and do not need long periods of bright sunlight to mature.

Plants for the winter garden:

  • Culinary Herb: parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano, chivesmints
    Mints: peppermint, spearmint
    Leafy greens: lettuce, spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard
    Roots: carrots, onion, leeks, parsnips, beets, turnips
    Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower

Maximize Timing – know first frost dates

Plant your winter crops early enough to allow them to reach full maturity before the first killing frost arrives, usually late December for southern Mississippi, early October for northern gardens. If frost arrives sooner than expected, mulch the plants heavily and cover them with a soft sheet or Visqueen to protect them from the cold or create a cold frame. Old Farmers Almanac cold frame directions here.

Days to Maturity

  •  30 days: lettuce, chives, spinach, radishes
    60 days: turnips, leeks, cabbage, Swiss chard and collard greens
    90 days: carrots, beets, Brussels sprouts, parsnips

To extend your growing season, use succession planting every two weeks especially on the quickest growing vegetables.

Happy gardening.

Karin Boutall

fallcropEd Hume Seeds


Living History Farm: Pesticide Research

While writing When Flowers Weep, I performed a significant amount of research on colony collapse disorder as well as the history of pesticides and how we came to use them.  Google and Wiki’s were of course instrumental, but I found this site particular interesting. It helped me become more empathic and added polish to my writing of story.

For anyone interested in how we came to use pesticides, I highly encourage the read.