Category Archives: Plant Science

Plant Power: Phytoremediation (Arsenic in soil, Part III)

Chinese brake fern (Pteris vittata L.) Source: Brake fern remediation

Today I get to write about one of my absolute favorite gardening topics, and for once I’m not being ironic. Phytoremediation isn’t going to make it onto most people’s gardening hit lists, and it’s not a fad that’s going to take the nation’s gardens by storm the way a new rose or hellebore might. But for me it’s proof positive of the extraordinary power of plants; it’s hope in a polluted world; it’s a spot of green in the brownfields of industry; it’s good sense in the midst of madness.

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Touch Your Tomatoes: thigmomorphogenesis

Yes, that’s what I said: thigmomorphogenesis. It may sound like a horrible spontaneous infection or a non-word entirely, the pseudo-scientific version of a thingamabob, but it’s not; it’s the horticultural term for the fact that plants’ growth patterns are altered by physical touch and agitation, whether by wind, rain, snow, contact with other plants, or—and now we’re getting to the heart of the matter—touch. All of these things cause upward growth to slow and stems to become sturdier.

The picture below shows a tree that didn’t get to experience it.

Picture 4
Source: Linda Chalker-Scott, Aug. 2005 horticultural myth on thigmomorphogenesis.

This phenomenon (but not, I’ll admit, the term, which I had to look up) came to mind as I read a recent post at A Way to Garden. Margaret’s comprehensive list of “tips for growing better tomatoes from seed” is all-around useful and informative, not to mention engaging. No surprises there, to anyone who reads her regularly.

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