Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Summer of Rain

It has rained a lot in my area this year.  According to a monitoring site I found, my area has had 108 days with rain and the total number of inches is 54 inches from January to early August. While the number of rainy days in previous years is not so far off (95 in 2012), the number of inches is about double.

Rain drops on Monarda punctata
Such a high amount of rain has kept the ground pretty saturated and naturally has had some effect on plant behavior, particularly in regard to blooms.

In addition, the weather patterns have moderated the temperatures more, resulting in a cooler average temperature. That affects plant growth too. Here are some of my observations.

Late blooms – Some plants bloomed later than usual: plumleaf azalea (Rhododendron prunifolium) bloomed 2-3 weeks later than some of the previous years. It is still blooming now. I usually try to take several pictures of blooms each year, but so many wet days has made it hard to get some pictures.

Rhododendron prunifolium

No blooms – My moisture loving spider lily (Hymenocallis caroliniana) didn’t bloom at all this year. I was sure it would be a banner year for her. Perhaps the plants near her are finally crowding her too much and extra moisture was not enough to overcome the lack of sufficient sun. Skullcap (Scutellaria incana) also struggled and only the plants located in the drier areas finally put out a few blooms. Given that it has been very aggressive in previous years, it was nice to have it take the year off.

Repeat blooms – When you have a hot dry spell followed by cool/wet some plants are enticed into blooming again. Several of the butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) plants are blooming on one stem and making seed pods on another. However, the second flush of blooms is smaller. Stokes’s aster (Stokesia laevis) has had blooms for a long time with periods of no blooms in between.

Stokesia laevis - Picture from June,
biggest flush was July, and still blooming in August

Prolonged blooming – Several plants have been blooming for weeks longer than usual. The bushy St. Johns wort (Hypericum densiflorum) has bloomed so long that I swear the bees aren’t interested in it anymore. As I said earlier, the azalea is still going strong. 

Lush growth – No surprise here that some things are just loving the moisture. This year I have been inundated with seedlings of camphorweed (Pluchea camphorata). I've never had a single seedling before, and I’ve had the mother plant for 3 years. Lobelia foliage is lush and the red flowers of Lobelia cardinalis are delightful.  

In general it has been a year of little supplemental watering for me and that has been nice. It was a good year to buy a flat of oakleaf hydrangea seedlings and pot them into gallon containers – they are huge now. It was a good year to plant some new things – my newly planted alternate leaf dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) has put on 36 inches of growth! 

Was it good, was it bad to have this much rain? I suppose that depends on the plant. Personally, I would like to see a bit more sunshine next year ….

One more time ... repeat bloom on Asclepias tuberosa


  1. Not to mention what a banner year it's been for weeds. Trying to keep ahead of them has taken all the time we would have spent watering in other years��

  2. Ellen, great round-up of observations - it seems like my A. tuberosa has been simply been blooming all summer, and is only now starting to taper off. I guess we 'take what we get' regarding the weather, but it is an excellent idea to increase our knowledge base from observing carefully and recording what we have seen. Emphasis on 'recording!' Thanks for doing that!

  3. Many of my drought tolerant plants, who were so happy the last few years, have died...too soggy.

  4. Similar observations in my garden. I would also note that the cooler, wetter weather has had a significant impact on the butterfly populations. And, I have found slugs in my garden for the first time ever!