Overwatering, whether acute or chronic, is usually a death sentence for plants, especially when accompanied with poor drainage. Waterlogged soils limit oxygen uptake by plant roots, which in turn affects the plant's metabolism, nutrient uptake, water absorption and photosynthesis. Symptoms vary from slow growth to plant death and can include: leaf necrosis, dieback, root discoloration, soil blackening, foul odors, slow growth, thinning canopy and chlorosis. Overwatered conifer symptoms are similar, except they can also exhibit needle drop. Overwatering is common in irrigated landscapes, plantings at the bottoms of slopes and in poorly drained containers.
Review irrigation practices and adjust if necessary. Allow soil to dry between irrigations. Consider planting woody plants that tolerate wet feet, such as: Acer negundo, A. rubrum, Alnus spp., Betula spp., Celtis occidentalis, Fraxinus americana, F. pennsylvanica, Gleditsia triacanthos, Juglans nigra, Morus alba, Nyssa sylvatica, Platanus occidentalis, Populus spp., Quercus bicolor, Q. palustris, Salix spp., Taxodium distichum, Tilia cordata, or Ulmus americana. There are also many herbaceous plants that will tolerate poor drainage. Increase soil porosity by amending with organic materials, such as wood chips, sawdust, bark or mulch.
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