Monthly Archives: July 2018
Did you know that you can kill some plants just as easily from too much water as not enough water?
The confusing thing is that a plant that is being overwatered even looks like a plant that does not have enough water – wilting, brown leaf tips, yellow leaves, and leaves that fall off the plant.
Factors that can cause overwatering
Soil type makes a huge difference in the frequency that additional water may need to be added.
- In sandier soils, you will need to water your plants more frequently, as the rain or irrigation drains away from the soil quickly.
- Heavier clay soils will not allow the water to percolate as quickly and will hold the water in place for a longer time. Adding water to clay soils too frequently can cause big problems.
- Plants grown in containers depend upon you to supply the proper amount of water. Make sure the pots you use have holes in the bottom, so excess water can drain away from the soil if too much water has been applied.
Why don’t plants like lots of water?
Well, some plants will grow in water or at the water’s edge. However, most of the plants you are using around your home are not water plants.
Roots are not dumb - they will grow to wherever they find food, oxygen, and water. Roots do not always just grow out in all directions all the same distance from the plant like you might think.
If the roots are waterlogged, they will not have enough oxygen. This can lead to stress or root rot, which will weaken the plant, or cause it to die. The plant roots may respond by growing closer to the surface and away from the areas that remain wet.
Ironically, if roots grow close to the surface to escape negative effects of overwatering, your plant will be more vulnerable to times of drought. You want your plants to firmly establish themselves in your garden with deeper root systems.
New plants versus established plants
Newly planted plant materials need you! Don’t install new plants and go on vacation. You need to be there for them. Newly planted bare root or container grown plants will need extra water the day you plant, and more frequent watering’s to keep the plant moist enough to start making new roots into YOUR soil they were planted into. That is the key!
Plants all respond a bit differently, and timing will depend upon the temperature and weather at planting time – but being attentive to the water needs is crucial for the first couple of weeks.
How do you know if your newly planted plants need water?
Use your finger by sticking it into the soil up to the 2nd knuckle at the roots. Feel the soil. If moist – skip watering that day. If dry – then give a good drink that day.
After a couple of weeks, you will notice that your newly planted plants are needing less frequent watering. That’s because the plants have established some by growing new roots into your soil finding their own food, oxygen, and water on their own. Yay! After they have established, your plants become less dependent upon you to supply any additional water.
How often do you water older and established plants in your yards?
It is almost impossible to make a blanket statement about watering with so many variables like soil types climate, and temperatures. Most older and established trees will not need you for a lot of help. With that in mind, watch your weather patterns and if you are not seeing rainfall for longer periods of time that is normal for your area – it would be worth your while for dropping a hose under your Birch tree or other Genus of plant that might needs some additional soil moisture in your area.
Use the finger method for feeling the soil at the roots to feel if plants are needing water. Use mulch over the top of the roots around your plants without mounding any mulch up against the plant stems or the trunks of your trees. Mulch will help to maintain and hold better moisture where it is needed.
It’s better to water your established plants longer and less frequently, rather than for short, frequent “sprinkles.” Again, you don’t want your roots to grow shallowly near the surface where they can dry out quicker. A larger volume of water applied to the roots will allow more roots to continue to grow down deep into the soil, where moisture may be more readily available.
Also, water the roots of your plants, and not the leaves or flowers. You’ll keep your plants cleaner and less susceptible to foliage problems.
The finger test…don’t forget! It works on house plants too. It’s so simple.
Nature Hills offers plants two ways, container grown plants and dormant bare root plants. Let’s take a look at tips and tricks to ensure success.
Establishing Bare Root Plants
Bare root plants are shipped dormant and without any leaves and no soil on the roots! They are dug in fall after they have been exposed to frost and the plants have started to go dormant. Garden experts shake off all of the soil from the roots. Bare root plants remain dormant until they are shipped to you.
How? They are stored in a cooler with no soil on the roots (at a controlled very high humidity) just above freezing. So bare root plants can be shipped from November through the winter (in milder climates) all the way into June. All bare root plants will be carefully wrapped to keep the roots covered and moist at all times during shipment.
Soaking your bare root plants in a tub of water overnight before planting really improves success to near perfect.
Fall Planting of Bare Root Plants
Establishing a bare root plant in the fall is simple. Soak, plant, water to settle the soil in around those roots, and keep an eye on soil moisture. Remember that fall planted plants will not grow until the following spring, but the big secret is those fall planted bare root plants will produce new roots in the fall before winter comes.
Initial watering at fall planting, then a good soaking the next day, and then using the finger test to feel if the soil needs additional moisture at the roots is the BEST WAY to know if the roots are kept moist.
Plants that dry out after transplanting will actually cause some of the smallest roots to die which reduces the chances for the plants to take up the water needed to support the top of the plant. Keeping even moisture at the roots is the key to a successful transplant.
Don’t Overwater Plants – Use the Finger Test
If you just add water every day to your plants, it could cause those roots to rot which can kill the plant too. Even soil moisture is best achieved by what we call the finger test – stick your finger up to the 2nd knuckle into the soil and feel. If it feels moist – skip water that day and if it feels dry then give a good drink.
Fall and winter bare root transplanted plants will need much less water than spring and early summer bare root plantings.
Establishing Container Grown Plants
Plants that have been grown in pots can be shipped to you dormant or actively growing, depending upon the time of the year they are shipped and the region they are grown in. Container grown plants can be shipped anytime as long as we are shipping to your area.
Container grown plants are easily slid from the pots they were grown in and can be carefully planted in the ground. Dig the hole no deeper than the pot it was growing in – but twice as wide or even more. Loosening the soil wider than the size of the pot allows the new roots to easily develop as they spread and re-establish the plant in its new home.
Getting your newly planted container plants established as quickly as possible is to your advantage:
- Upon arrival at any time of the year – completely submerge your plant into a tub of water until it stops bubbling.
- Then take the plant out and allow to drain while you plant. Gently loosen the soil on the bottom of the root ball to separate circling roots.
- As you backfill around the root ball with the soil that was excavated from the hole be sure to again completely saturate your plants right away.
- Then, use the finger test to know if your plant needs watering or not.
- Know that your container plants will need much more water (attention to frequency) when the temperatures are warm and sunny in spring and summer compared to fall shipments.
Soil type, temperature, and time of the year all makes a big difference as to how much water a plant will take up. But it is not just about how much water the plant will take up – it is about keeping the roots of your newly planted plants just moist without over watering or mistakenly letting the plant dry out too much – so that your plants can start making new roots.
Roots eventually will grow to find food and water on their own. Once they start to do so, your plants become less dependent upon you for additional water when needed. It can happen in a little as a week or sometimes as much as a month or more.
New roots are most easily initiated with you being highly attentive to the soil moisture at the roots of your newly planted plants. That does not mean you just water it every day or once a week. It means you use the finger test to feel the soil daily at the start, so YOU KNOW WHEN your plans are needing additional water. As new roots form you will notice the plants will need you less frequently and that is the key.
Are you are out looking for a new home? New construction or perhaps an existing home? What do you notice about the older homes? In many cases, the older homes have big, overgrown plants in their landscapes.
It is pretty amazing how you can change the look of an older home by updating or renovating the landscape. Many older homes have landscapes that “date” them. Like clothes, or hairstyles or eyewear…landscapes are designed differently today than they were even a short while ago. Not only an older landscape design, but older plant selections that have really outworn their stay. After a while, pruning may not be the answer. Maybe it is time cut off or tear out those outdated shrubs and start over with a fresh new look.
What do you notice about new homes that have been newly landscaped? Not only are the plants smaller but you might notice more color, ornamental grasses and perennials have been included in the design. Color is huge, and smaller plants that rebloom are the landscape architect’s dream!
Plants that put on less growth in a season are so popular the plant breeders are always looking for plants that remain smaller as they mature. Plants that don’t grow as tall or wide need less pruning which is huge for those of you who have better things to do with your time than to be to be out pruning. If you have someone maintain your property, dwarf plants can cost less to maintain.
Smaller flowering shrubs can still put out tons of flowers and fruit just like their larger parents. Some shrubs produce flowers that are showy for an extended time. Hydrangeas for instance bloom fresh flowers, age a bit to another color, and actually can remain on the plant well into fall. Hydrangea flowers can be showy all winter long as they remain on the plant and dry.
Some shrubs rebloom so you not only get that one round of flowers, you get subsequent sets of flowers that are produced. Invincibelle Wee White or Invincibelle Limetta are two fine examples in the Invincibelle series of dwarf Hydrangea selections that continue to produce new flowers once blooming begins. Some other Dwarf and Reblooming Hydrangeas include the Let’s Dance® series, Tuff Stuff® series, some of the Endless Summer® series, and the Forever & Ever® series all are worth checking out for your new foundation planting.
Have you seen or read about the reblooming Azaleas series of plants? Bloom-A-Thon® and Encore® series of include some incredible smaller versions of Rhododendrons that flower not only for weeks in spring, but most again summer and fall with weeks and weeks of bloom! Many color options and check the mature sizes to pick the right one for the right place. These Azaleas are game changers, photobombing your landscape with color throughout the season.
Another group of plants that have been bred to be smaller, produce massive amounts of flowers in June, and then continue to bloom throughout the season right into the fall season is Weigela! As a bonus many of these newer selections have some pretty incredible leaf color. Then the plant breeders not only included longer bloom, more rebloom, great foliage but all wrapped up in a smaller overall size. Brilliant!
The same breeding is going on in perennials and grasses for smaller overall size without sacrificing the bang. Sterile plants are hugely important too. Plants that will not reseed or become invasive is also priority. Many times sterile plants are so dumb, they keep making flowers because they are trying to make seed, so you become the beneficiary with a huge flower display!
Finally, let’s not forget that edibles have worked their way into today’s landscapes – and why not? Newer dwarf selections of Blueberry plants are wildly ornamental sporting flowers, fruit, incredible summer foliage and don’t forget that great fall color too. But we are also seeing raspberry, goji, honeyberry, rhubarb and even grape vines all being utilized in today’s design.
Smaller plants with more color, and less pruning maintenance is all the rage. Check out the many options from Nature Hills online nursery! www.naturehills.com