Wilting plants. Help!!

lexiegurl09November 18, 2011

Ok, so I have many varieties of cabbage, collards and broccoli planted out in different areas of my garden. Some plants are in the actual ground, some are in raised beds that are on the ground and a couple are in actual raised beds that make no contact with the ground. Well here lately, the weather has been rather warm (in the upper 70's to low 80's for highs and in the upper 50's and lower 60's for lows). During the day the plants would wilt some in the sun, but would perk up once the shade or nighttime came. All of them not just ones in a particular area, so I contributed that to the heat. Well yesterday we had a cold front come through with plenty of rain. Yesterday morning it was 71 degrees. Last night (less than 24 hrs later) it got down to like 32-33 degrees and my plants got a light frost on them. Nothing too heavy. All these plants are past the seedling stage and most even have heads beginning to form. Well once the frost came off and the sun got on my plants most of them are completely wilted and it is only like 50 degrees outside. I am going to see if they perk up after the sun gets off of them, but I am hoping they recover. What happened? Could it be the temperature difference in that short of a period shocked them? What can I do to help them recover? Please help as I really don't want to lose these plants now! Thanks!

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zzackey(8b GA)

Frost shouldn't hurt them. Ours even stand freezes. They will wilt from overwatering or being too dry. How often and how much water do you give them? We have a collard plant that is one year old and the heat never made it wilt. It got up to 99 this summer for a few days.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 4:42PM
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I water them regularly, probably once or twice a week in the raised beds, usually once the soil begins to dry out. The ground level plants get watered less due to that soil stays moist longer. I need to fertilze everything with some 10-10-10, but I still can't figure why everything wilted the morning after the frost. By that afternoon they had perked back up and with a little water, perked up even more even though the soil was somewhat moist. And they wilt in the sun usually on the warmer days, and so far I have not seen any signs of clubroot or pests on these plants. I just want them to grow the heads so I can harvest them as I am pretty impatient lol.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 5:52PM
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When (some) plant leaves sense near-freezing or freezing temps they move water out of cells/xylem and the xylem quits sending water out to leaves.

This keeps the xylem and leaves from damage. If they were full of water ice crystals can form which damage/kill cells as well as possibly rupturing xylem. Some plants also increase a type of natural anti-freeze production in a physiological reaction to temperature induced wilt.

When things warm up the xylem starts pumping water back into leaves, perking them up.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 6:05PM
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By the way...

Now that your greens/broc/cabbage have experienced their first hard frost they should handle future frosts much better as long as they're not getting watered to death.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 6:08PM
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I am trying my best to not overwater them. I think I am doing pretty good considering. My patience is getting the best of me now. I am ready to harvest something! My plants just seem to not want to form heads. The ones I planted in probably mid-september are growing well for the most part and have tiny heads that are barely visible, but have plenty of leaves. The ones in the raised beds were planted in early october and some are starting to form tiny heads as well. My temperatures are all over the place from freezing to almost 80 in less than a week! How much longer will my cabbages grow? Will they stop growing at certain temperatures (highs or lows)? Is 10-10-10 fertilizer or liquid soluble miracle gro better to fertilize with? I really just want to have a successful garden and any other tips will be greatly appreciated! I will have pictures tomorrow night!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 9:06PM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

I think now it's more a day-length thing. Once you drop below 10 hours the plants just maintain but don't really grow.

By the way, it's taking the plants longer to mature because of day-length too. That's really why the fall plant dates are so important.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 8:24AM
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Ok, that makes sense. Some of them still wilt in the sun though even when the soil is wet or dry. I have also checked for any root problems and so far there are no signs of any. If my plants have stopped growing, will they still make heads in the spring? Our winters arent terrible here although we will get a couple extremely cold (like teens/lower 20s) for lows with 30s and 40s for highs. That is cold for us lol. I am hoping I can do something with them. My first batch was planted mid sept and the second transplants in mid october. Also, will it hurt to give them some 10-10-10? Thank you for all the help!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 3:25PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

It won't hurt to give them some 10-10-10. Just a little bit. Read the label. We are warmer than you. I don't know how cold those veggies will take it on a regualr basis. Can you go to/or call your local ag. center and ask them? We didn't get broccoli until January. It takes a long time for winter crops to grow.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 7:18PM
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