Severe hail damage is devastating and discouraging. First of all – take a deep breath and don’t despair. Many times plants will recover from some hail damage, other times there will be no recovery and replanting will be necessary. Here are steps to consider:
• Do a general clean-up of the area and remove the damaged parts of plants – trim off any hanging stems and remove the debris in the area.
• If all that remains are stems, trim them back by half and they will possibly releaf.
• Lightly cultivate the soil around the damaged plants. The force of hail and heavy rain compacts the soil and leaves a hard crusty layer at the surface – gently cultivate to break up the crusty layer.
• Avoid the urge to immediately fertilize the damaged plants. Give them a chance to develop new growth. After a week to 2 weeks fertilize with fish emulsion or seaweed extract. After they have resumed active growth, regular fertilization can resume.
In many instances, hail damage is a Mother Nature “pruning” of the plant. Remember that pruning stimulates growth, and many plants can recover. There will be those that are beyond repair and will have to be replaced.
There are many ways to protect plants from hail to come. Invert cardboard boxes, buckets or pots, over your plants. Hail netting is a great way to protect plants. Use stakes to hold it above the foliage of your plants. It’s durable and lasts for years. Because it allows water and sunlight to pass through the netting, it can be left over plant for a time, safely.