Why do plants flop over?

Why do plants flop over?

I know, past 40 we all begin to suffer from a little ‘ flop and droop’ but you don’t want the garden to follow suit! So why do your plants flop and never seem to grow strongly?

Well it’s all down to 3 things LIGHT, SOIL and BREEDING

Light:

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OK a bit basic, but plants grow toward the sunlight. If light levels are low, the plant tries to grow really fast to get to as much light as possible quickly, it becomes a leggy skinny teenager of a plant. Once it has reached the light, it isn’t strong enough to support itself properly, so the plant will flop over – just like a leggy skinny teenager!

If light levels are low then look to raise the branches of overhanging trees and shrubs to allow more sunlight down onto the soil.

Soil:

poor-soil
You try pushing your roots through here!

Your plants will grow really well if they have food and water, so the soil really determines how well everything will grow. A poor soil that lacks nutrition will produce weak straggly plants that flop easily or droop everywhere.  The slightest puff of wind will send you ‘prize specimens’ heading for the floor!

rich soil and grasses
These grasses are actually ‘overweight’ – the soil is too nutritious for them

Spookily and rather contrary to most common sense, too much rich soil can also plants to flop

This is because of the way plants ‘think’…too much food and us humans become fat, unfit and a little more lethargic. Its the same with plants. The plant becomes ‘fat and lazy’ which in plant terms means it produces lots of sappy green growth which is wobbly and floppy.

If the plant is in a less rich soil, it starts behaving as though it will probably die. This causes it to think, ‘ooh must reproduce myself quickly before I conk out’. So it starts to flower copiously in order for it to produce seeds, so there is less energy to devote to growing all those succulent green leaves.

So an over rich soil for plants that don’t need much food produces floppy plants too.

Breeding:

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The dahlia on the right is admittedly very showy, but is it more beautiful than the other one?

Plant breeders are constantly striving for bigger and more showy flowers, the trouble is that larger flowerheads weigh more – once it rains, the extra weight of the water makes the plants flop and droop or in some cases collapse.

Dahlia_at_Lalbagh_flowershow
Simple petals are better for insects

You are left constantly tying plants to stakes or using supports to keep them upright and looking their best. Now if you don’t mind doing that, great, but if you don’t then choose plants with more natural looking flower petals.

See also Why do plants die?

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