Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Native plants as accumulators of heavy metals in Texas
March 29, 2008 - I would like to know of any native plants that could be used as hyperaccumulaters of heavy metals in Texas.
view the full question and answer

Why do some flowers open during the day and close at night?
April 08, 2009 - My son is doing a science fair project on the California Poppies. We are trying to find the definitive answer on why the flowers open during the day and close at night.
view the full question and answer

More information on plants native to Taylor County TX
February 13, 2012 - Re: Thursday - September 15, 2011 QUESTION: Am looking for direction to a complete list of plants native to the Abilene, Taylor County, Texas area (trees, shrubs, grasses, cacti and other plants ...
view the full question and answer

Disappearing sunlight in Phoenix, AZ
September 29, 2009 - I live in a condo in Phoenix, AZ with a north facing patio that goes out about 10 feet and is 20 feet wide. During the summer months there is a span of 1 foot in the front that goes the 20 foot length...
view the full question and answer

Define monoculture from St. Croix Falls, WI
May 30, 2014 - What do you call a dense stand or carpet of one species of wildflower? Our botany professor told us but that was 40 years ago!
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.