Despite the negative connotation, plant stress can be a good thing. However, there are two types of stress when it comes to plants: biotic and abiotic. Biotic stress is to be avoided, this is caused by another living organism such as disease and pests that will damage your plants and can spread quite quickly.
On the other hand, abiotic stress is caused by non-living factors in the environment, such as light, temperature, water, and fertilisers. This week we will explore the benefits of temperature and drought stress on plants. Using these techniques would be very beneficial if you had an open terrarium and want to ensure the plants don’t get too big and stay nice and compact in the glass container.
Most plants have an optimal temperature in which they have the quickest development rate. At this temperature, plants new growth of foliage and flowering is accelerated. Warm temperatures also promote longer stems and leaves. Overall resulting in a bigger plant.
However, growing plants in cooler temperatures decreases their development rate. This results in the decrease of elongation of the stems and reducing the number of nodes on the stem, hence reducing growth. This often results in shorter plants. This is a great technique to use if you have a plant that you want to stay smaller and more compact for longer. On the other hand, if you do provide low temperature stress to your plant, it would take much longer to flower.
Most plants survive and thrive better when you underwater them, compared to overwatering which would result in root rot which can sometimes be impossible to save from. Drought stress will help manage plants size and improve their hardiness, meaning it would be easier for consumers to buy and keep alive – especially those who struggle without a green thumb.
You have to be careful subjecting your plants to drought stress however, as if you leave them dry for too long they may not recover. A common symptom is the foliage wilting. Once you notice the first signs of wilt and softer more malleable leaves that would be the critical time to give them some water. This will ensure that the plant will bounce back and benefit from the drought stress as if you go too long without watering the plant, it will die.