En Español

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 Watering Questions

Leaf fall from Cedar Elm planted in clay
August 17, 2008 - I saw the answer to leaves falling off a cedar elm planted in clay. However I planted a Cedar Elm in my back yard. I dug a hole in the grass then planted and put grass back on top. I water every other...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of closet plant
August 13, 2008 - I have a closet plant that is old and was doing fine and then started having droopy leaves. It needed to be in a larger pot so I transplanted into a larger pot with new potting soil. It continues to...
view the full question and answer

Ilex vomitoria Sufering from Drought?
January 19, 2012 - My Ilex vomitoria has always thrived. It is about ten years old. This fall, a portion of the leaves on the ends of the branches have turned yellow on the edges with green veining in the center. Othe...
view the full question and answer

Plants for oak shade from Whitney TX
December 24, 2012 - I live in Whitney, Texas and have a number of beautiful Live Oak trees in a portion of my yard providing deep shade. Asian Jasmine grows in about 5 ft circle around them and then nothing! I have walk ...
view the full question and answer

Should Texas live oaks be mulched under drought conditions?
July 19, 2011 - Should we mulch our live oaks in pastures for water retention?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center