En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
56 ratings

Sunday - February 17, 2008

From: Garden City, KS
Region: Midwest
Topic: General Botany, Watering
Title: Withering plants recover with water
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Why do withering plants stand up when you give them water?

ANSWER:

When a plant begins to wither, it is to protect itself from water loss. Water is absolutely vital to a plant: it takes up nutrients in water, and it transpires (like a person sweating) water to cool itself down. A plant in a pot or in the ground that has begun to dry out and is out in the sun is in danger of losing all its moisture to transpiration and dying. Once the cells in the stem have dried up and died, there is no recovery. The water moving up the stem, by a process called osmosis, swell the cells in the stems and keep the stem rigid. Meanwhile, the leaves are trying to protect the plant by folding in and shading the leaves from the sun and transpiration. As there is less and less water available to move up the stem, the cells in that stem will become less full and the stem will start to droop. Hopefully, someone comes along and notices that the plant is drooping and applies water. The water goes to the root, where it is gathered into the plant by tiny hair-like growths on the root, and begins to be distributed up the stem again. The cells in the stem begin to fill with the fresh moisture, and the stem again becomes rigid and is able to straighten up. Then, the water in the stem goes to the leaves and they are able to uncurl as water comes to their rescue.

For a more complete explanation and some illustrations, go to this BBC website, "Green Plants as Organisms."

 

More General Botany Questions

USDA Hardiness Zones
January 22, 2015 - Some natives are listed as ZONE 3 - 7. Would they be ok in zone 9. I thought the zones related to cold hardiness. What does the higher number mean, exactly?
view the full question and answer

Purple leatherflower with white bloom
July 17, 2014 - A couple of years ago at the wildflower center native plant sale I bought a purple leatherflower according to the tag. This is the first year it has bloomed and the blooms are pure white. The shape ma...
view the full question and answer

Can users sort plant lists in the Plant Database?
November 17, 2008 - Although your database searches are very useful, I would like to take it further, for example by sorting the "Central Texas Recommended" list on various columns, as you might do in a spreadsheet. D...
view the full question and answer

Strange form of Dasylirion sp. (sotol)
December 27, 2008 - Mr. Smarty: I have a client with a huge (2 ft. diameter trunk), multi-headed dasylirion. On one or more of the heads, the leaves arch inward instead of outward. Someone said this is because of an inju...
view the full question and answer

Source for DNA sequencing of Opuntia species
March 04, 2014 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I am trying to do a Opuntia speciation study, and rather just identifying the species by morphological comparison, I would also like to go a little deeper by comparing the DNA...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center