Back to Back Issues Page
Transpiration and Favorite Flowers
August 02, 2010

I am back from a few days of R&R.

Not enough time to recharge the batteries, but every little bit helps.

We spent a few days in one of our favorite regions 'Petoskey' and in and around the 'Little Traverse Bay' area of Michigan.

To those unfamiliar to Michigan, it is the 'Tip of the Mitt' so to speak (left upper side).

R&R also includes water time and spotting wildlife as well.

It is amazing how much your gardens can grow in four days, especially when you aren't there to watch them every day.

There isn't time for a nice personal part of the letter this week, but at least I haven't resorted to 'BEST OF's' just yet.

The pictures of the feeding Northern cardinals are from early last week as they were visiting my yard.

Papa and Mom were busy feeding and teaching.

The first of the month means it is time to clean and sanitize your feeders.

While you're at it, do the same for your water features.

Don't stop there.....................

As nest boxes empty out, take them down and give them a good cleaning as well.

Sometimes you may end up with a late pair of nesters.

I finally saw my first Monarch in my yard and a couple of them up North.

This weeks topic (Transpiration) is one I am familiar with so little research was required.

It also makes for a fast turn around for me.

Toss in some favorite flowers provided by readers (Thank you), and I have a halfway decent letter for you.


Flower pictures are shared by and courtesy of Judia Deal

Diane Morgan from St Joseph, Mo.

My favorite plant or flower??? I could go on and on because for the most part ALL flowers are so naturally beautiful.....I love Salvia, phlox, peonies, black-eye-susans, and zinnias to name a few.....nothing pleases me more than walking around my yard and looking at the flowers I've grown from seed. Last year I went to a yard sale where a woman was selling cuttings from her plants, like phlox and others I don't have a name for. I planted them last Sept. (they were about 2" big) and now they are huge and just beautiful. I also have plants that my elderly neighbor has given me that she planted almost 50 years ago, like daisy's and others that I don't recall the name(s) of.

Needless to say I LOVE spring and summer! And perennials are my favorite because I can never remember what I planted and where, etc so it's fun to see what comes up!

Thanks Diane.

As you can see, there are people like me............... what ever is in bloom is a favorite. Still, there are some plants that we hold special for one reason or another.

Growing from seed is always a challenge, yet full of rewards.

Barbara from the Woodlands TX (a little north of Houston)

My favorite is Shasta daisy, not sure why. They're so delicate. Have lots of trouble growing them here though, but keep trying every year. Second favorite is coneflower.

Barbara, Daisies are native to Europe, but should still grow in your warm climate as there are several cultivars to choose from.

Thankfully, native coneflowers will handle your temperatures and weather conditions. They are one hardy plant.

Gloria J. Monroe, Paris, TN

My favorite flower is a marigold! they come in all colors and are a natural pesticide to many insects! They bloom for such a long period of time, are so hardy, they were the first flower I planted from seed when I was around 8 years old and I was so happy when they grew and gave us enjoyment for so many months!

Gloria, annuals should be in every garden, as they offer season long color.

Marigolds (Tagetes) are native to Mexico, yet they come with names attached like French or African Marigolds...... never could figure that one out.

Once again, a special memory behind a certain flower, I like that.

Lou from Marlton, NJ.

My favorite flower is the purple cone flower. They attract anything and everything from humming birds, goldies, cardinals, all kinds of finches, many types of beautiful butterflies and of course bumble bees and honey bees. I have seen a large increase in the honey bee this year which is great news since they have been on the decline. This year I've had several yellow beautiful swallowtails for a few weeks now that are here everyday. Painted ladies and viceroys but only have had one monarch and many white cabbage type.

I also love impatiens to hang in my trees out back to bring color to otherwise dull areas. Petunias are another favorite that actually came back from last years seeds and are full and beautiful as well. Many returning wildflowers such as Black-eye-susans, four O' clocks, and some flowers I'm still trying to identify. This year I tried a couple fibrous begonias for shade spots and they are doing very well.

Thanks for your input Lou.

I too plant several flowers to attract birds and pollinators, they add to the beauty as a whole don't you think?

Judia Deal, Connelly Springs, NC

I think my favorite flowers are irises, dahlias and zinnias.. I love day lilies and Asiatic lilies too. My mom loved dahlias and I think that's where I get my appreciation for them. I love Asiatic lilies cause one stalk will make a flower pot and they last so long, about 2 weeks in a vase. I love the smell of hyacinths and lilacs.

Thank you Judia.

I enjoy iris, they are so delicate looking with a sweet, yet gentle scent. To bad the bloom season is so short.

Is it possible for a garden to be complete without daylilies?

Once again, a favorite passed on from generation to generation.

There you have it folks.

The few responses seem to show a bit of a theme or have some great reasons why you enjoy certain bloomers.

It seems that sentimental value for one reason or another adds to our gardens, and there is no telling what will pop up as a favorite and why.

Thank you Judia for sharing some of your pictures this week.

Do you have some favorite flowers that you would like to share and maybe give a short reason why they are a favorite?

Just reply back to this letter along with your:

First name (last is optional)

City or location

State or province

I'm really looking forward to hearing from you.

Reader involvement only make this letter better, don't you think?

Come on Gang, make it happen.

On to today's topic.



If you are at all like me, you enjoy learning.

Yes, I like exercising my mind.

Learning for me isn't always about Gardening, and it isn't always on Wildlife,

Today's topic isn't about either really, but it is something I am familiar with and it does effect both as well as yourself.

Transpiration: The release of water from plant leaves.

Something for you to think about.

Transpiration is the evaporation of water from plants.

It occurs chiefly at the leaves while their stomata are open for the passage of CO2 and O2 during photosynthesis

(There is that carbon stuff again.)

But air that is not fully saturated with water vapor (100% relative humidity) will dry the surfaces of cells with which it comes in contact.

So the photosynthesizing leaf loses substantial amount of water by evaporation.

This transpired water must be replaced by the transport of more water from the soil to the leaves through the xylem of the roots and stem.


Transpiration is not simply a hazard of plant life.

It is the "engine" that pulls water up from the roots to:

supply photosynthesis (1%-2% of the total)

bring minerals from the roots for biosynthesis within the leaf and cool the leaf.

Studies have revealed that transpiration accounts for about 10 percent of the total moisture in the atmosphere.

More so over land.

Oceans, seas, and other bodies of water (lakes, rivers, streams) providing nearly 90 percent, and a tiny amount coming from sublimation (ice changing into water vapor without first becoming liquid).

Plants take in water through their root systems to deliver nutrients to their leaves, then release it through small pores, called stomates, found on the undersides of their leaves

Just as you release water vapor when you breathe, plants do, too although the term "transpire" is more appropriate than "breathe."

Plants put down roots into the soil to draw water and nutrients up into the stems and leaves.

Some of this water is returned to the air by transpiration.

Transpiration rates vary widely depending on weather conditions, such as temperature, humidity, sunlight availability and intensity, precipitation, soil type and saturation, wind, and land slope.

During dry periods, transpiration can contribute to the loss of moisture in the upper soil zone, which can have an effect on vegetation and food-crop fields and your flower gardens.

So, how much water do plants transpire?

You may be surprised.

Plant transpiration is pretty much an invisible process since the water is evaporating from the leaf surfaces, you don't just go out and see the leaves "breathing".

Just because you can't see the water doesn't mean it is not being put into the air, though.

One way to visualize transpiration is to put a plastic bag around some plant leaves or build a terrarium.

During a growing season, a leaf will transpire many times more water than its own weight.

An acre of corn gives off about 3,000-4,000 gallons (11,400-15,100 liters) of water each day, and up to 400,000 gallons in a growing season.

In comparison, an Olympic sized swimming pool is roughly 648,000 gallons.

A large oak tree can transpire 40,000 gallons (151,000 liters) per year.

Now think how much these plants and trees must drink to grow and survive?

Indeed, 10% of the earth's atmosphere moisture comes from plants.

Rain forests recycle 75% of this moisture in the form of rain (another one of God's well thought out plans).

Are you still with me?

Atmospheric factors affecting transpiration:

The amount of water that plants transpire varies greatly geographically and over time.

There are a number of factors that determine transpiration rates:

Temperature: Transpiration rates go up as the temperature goes up, especially during the growing season, when the air is warmer due to stronger sunlight and warmer air masses.

Higher temperatures cause the plant cells which control the openings (stoma) where water is released to the atmosphere to open, whereas colder temperatures cause the openings to close.

Relative humidity: As the relative humidity of the air surrounding the plant rises the transpiration rate falls.

It is easier for water to evaporate into dryer air than into more saturated air.

Wind and air movement: Increased movement of the air around a plant will result in a higher transpiration rate.

This is somewhat related to the relative humidity of the air, in that as water transpires from a leaf, the water saturates the air surrounding the leaf.

If there is no wind, the air around the leaf may not move very much, raising the humidity of the air around the leaf.

Wind will move the air around, with the result that the more saturated air close to the leaf is replaced by drier air.

Soil-moisture availability: When moisture is lacking, plants can begin to senesce (premature aging, which can result in leaf loss) and transpire less water.

Type of plant: Plants transpire water at different rates.

Some plants which grow in arid regions, such as cacti and succulents, conserve precious water by transpiring less water than other plants.

Pines and spruce needles have a waxy coating on them that help to conserve moisture so these trees can grow in cooler, hotter and drier conditions then most deciduous trees.

When things o to warm, the stoma on the leaves will close to slow down the loss of moisture.

Transpiration and ground water:

In many places, the top layer of the soil where plant roots are located is above the water table and thus is often wet to some extent, but is not totally saturated, as is soil below the water table.

The soil above the water table gets wet when it rains as water infiltrates into it from the surface, but, it will dry out without additional precipitation.

Since the water table is usually below the depth of the plant roots, the plants are dependent on water supplied by precipitation.

The atmosphere can hold only so much water and not a drop more.

When the atmosphere reaches a saturation point or certain conditions are favorable, we get rain, snow, ice etc.

This moisture must fall some where.

Most of the time, atmospheric conditions and geography will dictate our weather, but the are cases and situations we play a big roll.

Stripping rain forests affects their local weather and reaches beyond.

The infamous dust bowl was due to stripping and tilling to much land at one time.

Where there are no plants to transpire, there is little moisture in the air and this often creates dessert like weather conditions.

Atmospheric conditions can give us dry years, or years of excessive rain which causes flooding.

There is no set weather pattern.

I can't go into depth in a newsletter, however, you should get the idea by now.

Plants, and lots of them may be more important than you ever realized.

Remember, 75% of a rain forest's rain is recycled, and I read some where that 50% to 75% of our rain can come from transpiration as well when conditions are favorable.

So when you complain about the air you can wear, thank the forests, corn fields, bean fields and the masses of greenery surrounding you or nearby regions.

One more thought................

Earth and its atmosphere contains a certain amount of water/moisture.

No more and no less.

We aren't loosing water as many experts want you to believe (where would it go).

Our water gets polluted and displaced, but we still have the same amount of water on earth as we ever had.

Lake levels rise and fall.

Some years you may have a rainy season, while others it is lacking.

Think about that, before you start screaming and calling me crazy.

Our plants and life as a whole depend on it.

Well, it's time to fly.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

He who smiles rather than rages is always the stronger.

Japanese proverb

Isn't it amazing.

Something so simple and easy makes you and me the stronger.

Why let rage build up within?

Why allow hatred to grab a hold of you?

Why plot revenge?

It is also said........................

While you are busy plotting and hating, the other person is dancing and living life.

Smiles are simple and melt away rage.

Rage can control a person and drag them down.

Smiles are happy and simple.

So simple that they take fewer muscles than to scowl.

Isn't it amazing how god works that out?

Less is more.

Wear your smiles.

Show off your best feature.

Let go of the rage and let God.handle things.

Until next time,

God Bless.

19. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"]says the Lord.
20.On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."
21.Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:19-21

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

Back to Back Issues Page