De-icing, road salt, sodium chloride, anti-slip, whatever you want to call it, it’s a deadly mix for our plants.
I know here at Horizon House we don’t have to worry about that in our gardens, but we may have friends and children who’s homes and gardens may very well be affected in a big way.
Yesterday, we walked up the street to the drugstore. There were salt crystals everywhere on the sidewalk and on the street. It’s a good way to make the roadways safe, but that Road Salt will play havoc with most plant materials. The link I just gave you takes you to an article about what happens. It’s from Rutgers University Extension Service. Which isn’t really right here, but it is a great explanation of what occurs when that nasty stuff gets into the soil, and on the leaves of your plants.
In the northeast, or in locations where sodium chloride is used on the highways and roadways, it is quite obvious that something is affecting the plants and trees by the roadsides. Many trees are dying back or browning up. Here is a very clear description of what happens from the U. of Vermont. It gives such a good and simple explanation of what happens “when salt meets plant”!
When the salt hits the leaves, it is very caustic to them, causing “die back”. When it gets into the soil, it uses up the water (think salt shaker…do you put raw rice into your shakers to absorb the moisture? If you don’t, the salt will take up the water and form clumps.)
In the winter, plants have a hard time getting enough hydration to begin with, because the soil tends to be frozen. The leaves give up moisture as well, so the plants soon will suffer from dehydration. You can use an anti-desiccant which will help the leaves hold onto that precious water. It decreases transpiration.
Now the next time you see die-back of trees and plants next to the roadways, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what causes it. Again, here we are causing nasty things to happen to our environment!