Sep 23, 2022
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How to know if a plant is dead or just dormant

How to know if a plant is dead or just dormant

Some people become less active in the winter, and some plants do something similar. They hibernate if the temperature is very low outside, and then come out of hibernation when the conditions for their growth become more favorable. During such a nap, the leaves of the plant fall off, and it may seem that it has died. But most likely it is not.

Obviously, garden plants undergo certain changes due to weather conditions, but indoor plants are also subject to them. Some plants are able to predict bad weather (as a rule, this is associated with a decrease or increase in temperature). Unfavorable weather conditions cause hibernation, which plants fall into. In fact, many plants even need this dormant period to survive.

Species that simply need rest should not be deprived of it in any way. If you still try to create an eternal summer for your plants by moving them indoors, then species such as Japanese maple or palmate maple will not live in such conditions for more than two years. After a maximum period of uninterrupted growth, a plant native to temperate countries will involuntarily go into dormancy, regardless of season or environmental conditions. Deciduous plants shed their leaves, evergreens do not produce new shoots.

Both garden and indoor plants can hibernate also after the resulting stress. For example, if a plant is not watered at all, it may shed all its leaves and go to sleep to conserve any remaining moisture. It looks like it is dying, but in fact, such a defense mechanism saves its life.

In order to check whether the plant has died or is simply dormant, a test must be carried out.

Cut off the end of the twig the size of a pencil. Take a twig and sharply bend it back and forth several times. The live twig will bend easily and eventually split, revealing the damp wood inside. A dead twig will crack as soon as you bend it slightly, and it will be dry inside. You can also lightly scratch the outer part of the branch with a knife or fingernail.

In this case, you will need to further explore the stem and try to scratch the lower branch, or even the stem at the very roots. The plant may show signs of life in these areas. If this happens, you need to cut off the dead stems almost to the very root.

Even though it looks dead above the soil surface, a dormant plant will have living roots. If checking with bending or scratching the branch seems unconvincing, you can take the plant out of the pot and see if the roots look alive and well, or if they are completely rotted or shrunken.

Rotten roots will emit an unpleasant odor, in which case this will mean that the plant has died. If the roots turn out to be flexible, then on the contrary, it will indicate that the plant simply fell asleep.

It happens that some roots may be dead, while others are alive, including the main root. So, to help the plant optimize its resources and revitalize with the onset of warm weather, you can prune dead roots. Try not to hurt the main root and other healthy roots.

Your plant may fall asleep, but this does not mean that it does not need your care at all. He does not need light, but he still needs to be watered from time to time: once a month will be enough. Pretty easy care, but during the cold season, many people water the plants as often as they do in the summer, for example. This is detrimental to plants, as they can die from excessive watering. In heated rooms, the earth in a pot dries quickly, but only from above, deeper, it may turn out to be wet.

To find out if it’s time to water your plant, dig the soil in a pot 2-3 centimeters deep and touch the soil with your finger. If the soil is damp, the plant does not need to be watered yet.

The dormant state is an essential part of the plant’s growth cycle. In this case, there is nothing you can do about it, except to wait for warm days. The plants will come out of hibernation as soon as it warms up and you will notice new signs of life. In the meantime, you can prune dead stems to make room for new shoots.

As you can see, when caring for plants and not wanting to harm them, you need to consider that they have periods of active growth, as well as dormant periods.

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