The Garden Muse – April showers will bring May flowers – Kenbridge Victoria Dispatch

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We’ve all heard the saying “April showers will bring May flowers”; however, I believe there is more to the abundance of Mayflowering plants than rain. Warming temperatures and waking up soil are surely having a profound effect on the emerging foliage of spring.

There is more rain than you think and I guess whoever coined the phrase did it to cleverly imprint the importance of spring rain in the brains of many gardening enthusiasts.

Have you ever noticed that your outdoor plants and flowers can look bigger, greener and lusher after a good downpour? If so, you weren’t imagining the subtle differences you’ve observed. The change in appearance of your plant is most likely due to rain.

Rainwater is considered 100% soft water when it falls. It is naturally slightly acidic and should not be confused with “acid rain” which is much stronger and caused by different gases. Rainwater is free from salts, minerals, chemicals and pharmaceuticals all of which can be found in some urban/groundwater in varying amounts. If you have ever noticed or observed a whitish/gray ring around a clay pot, this is from an abundance of salts/chemicals building up and leaching through the clay from the water. tap that was used to water the plant.

Most organic green plants like a soil pH level of 5.5 to 6.5 (that’s on the acid side of neutral pH 7) and that’s the natural pH range of rainwater.

Rainwater contains nitrates, an important macro-nutrient. Nitrates in rainwater are the most bioavailable form of nitrogen that plants need to thrive and grow lush foliage. Many forms of nitrogen cannot be taken up by plants. Nitrates consisting of nitrogen and oxygen in rainwater are formulated naturally for maximum uptake by plants. Nature designed most plants to absorb their nitrates from the soil, provided by rain.

Interestingly, the amount of nitrogen in rainwater usually increases during a lightning storm. The high temperatures of lightning can provide enough energy to combine nitrogen and oxygen from the air forming nitrogen oxides which dissolve in rainwater and form nitrates.

It should also be noted that ground/well water is not deficient in nitrogen, but the soil and rocks deep in the earth tend to add various organic salts to the water as it seeps through. soil particles.

Rainwater is indeed something special for the plant world.

Dawn Conrad is a Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener, herb enthusiast, writer, and fiber artist. She can be contacted at dawn@mygardenmuse.com.

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