Best garden plants for the wind – shrubs, flowers and trees

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In 2014, we had very strong winds across the country. The wind was so strong that it uprooted a large eucalyptus tree in our garden, and after the first crack of the root ball, the tree seemed to descend in slow motion, just above a large grassy border. Luckily, it was late winter/early spring, so our arborist’s tall 10s trampling caused little damage to the underground perennials.

The wind is one of the gardener’s worst enemies and the plants have adapted to cope with strong gusts or are quickly beaten.

How wind can damage the garden

During the winter, evergreen plants are scorched by the wind, caused by cold winds which also dry out the soil.

The wind can cause plants to sway excessively, tugging and tugging at their roots. This continuous movement interferes with the roots’ ability to stay rooted in the soil, the “root rock”, which reduces the plant’s ability to absorb water, leading to severe water stress and even death. Wind affects plant growth and development in several ways.

Strong winds can also damage plants by breaking them and distorting their growth. It lowers the air temperature around the plants, which reduces their growth rate.

Although good air circulation is essential in the garden to prevent the buildup of fungal spores that lead to plant disease, strong winds can be devastating to plants as they cause desiccation and leaf death. and the breaking of weak branches.

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“Thigmomorphogenesis” is a slow developmental change in the shape of a plant under continuous mechanical stress (i.e. wind).

When trees bend in the wind, for example, growth is usually stunted and the trunk thickens.

Wind-blown rain can spread spores from infected plants to healthy plants, rapidly inhibiting their ability to maintain healthy plant growth and size.

The wind can also weaken the grip of the roots on the ground, caused by the movement of the stem so that the plant is partly lifted from the ground – this is called “wind rock”.

Transpiration is the process by which moisture is transported through plants from the roots to the small pores on the underside of the leaves, where it turns to vapor and is released into the atmosphere.

Transpiration is basically the evaporation of water from plant leaves. Transpiration also includes a process called guttation, which is the loss of water in liquid form from the uninjured leaf or stem of the plant, primarily through the water stomata.

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Wind is a big contributor to perspiration. A 5 mph wind will increase the transpiration of still air by 20%; a 15 mph wind will increase still air transpiration by 50%.

Some plants have adapted to wind pollination. They have small, light pollen, which is carried by the wind, and have feathery stigmas to catch the pollen, like Betula and Ambrosia artemisiifolia.

Wind also increases turbulence in the atmosphere, thereby increasing the supply of carbon dioxide to plants, which results in higher rates of photosynthesis.

How to use plants to protect the garden from the wind

In the long term, the wind can be redirected or slowed down by creating a windbreak or windbreak.

A hedge, tall trees, braided willow hedge or semi-permeable barrier in the direction of the prevailing wind will help reduce physiological and wind damage to other plants. Windbreaks reduce wind speed and thus create a favorable microclimate and provide shelter for beneficial pollinators.

The more branches on a tree, the better the wind will diffuse through it to keep it straight.

Windbreaks are intended for large gardens, where large trees are planted in 3 or 4 staggered rows. Acer campestre, Carpinus betulus, Rosa rugosa, Pinus nigra or Phyllostachys felxuosa make excellent windbreaks. In addition, mulching will stop water loss from roots and soil.

In the short term, prune plants prone to rocky winds, such as shrub roses, Lavatera and Buddleia, to a third to half their height in the fall and bring vulnerable plants like Olea europaea indoors.

Always avoid the temptation to build strong walls and structures to slow the wind.

With a strong structure, the wind is pushed upwards with increased turbulence, which can cause serious damage to nearby plants and properties.

It is therefore best to plant trees and shrubs, such as mountain ash, birch, aspen, dogwood, juniper and pine.

The best plants for a windy garden

Shrubs can easily be incorporated into planting schemes. Try farming Berberis, Blackthorn, Broom, and Elaeagnus.

When it comes to ornamental grasses and herbaceous perennials, there are plenty to choose from, but some are more wind tolerant than others.

The sea thrift, Armeria, grows on slopes and banks close to the sea and is beaten by coastal winds and is therefore perfect for the front of a boundary.

Plants that sway naturally in the slightest breeze make good specimens, such as Stipa, Calamagrostis, Panicum, Sedge and Sesleria grasses. Crambe maritima and Crambe cordifolia send up sprays of white flowers, while fiery Crocosmia mixes sway on their arching stems.

Thistles and eryngiums of all kinds work well in windy gardens.

Try growing Eryngium agavifolium or Eryngium alpinum. For late summer colors and flowers that dance in the wind, you can’t beat the windflower or Japanese anemone.

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