Planting - The First Two Weeks:
In nature the most critical period of a plant’s life is shortly after germination. When you buy plants for your garden, this critical period is the first two weeks after purchase. Here at Evergreen Nursery, we do our best to help this process. Most plants are container grown for appropriate lengths of time in ideal soil mixes, with proper growing conditions and optimal amounts of water and fertilizer. Care is taken to make sure plants are not overgrown for their container size. Well-designed pots and soil additives help the soil retain water and nutrients. Locally grown plants and lightweight soil mixes help provide the best quality plants already acclimated to the area, and give customers the best chance of success. The next step is up to you! Here are a few tips to ensure the well-being of your new plants:
Checking Your Soil
Before purchasing, consider a plant’s growing requirements and desired location. Analyze your drainage, irrigation and soil content. Adding clay-rich soil will improve very sandy soil; conversely, coarse sand can be added to break up heavy clay soil. Adding lime will increase the pH of overly acid soil and also helps loosen clay soil. If you’re unsure about the quality of your soil, an inexpensive soil test kit can help determine what additives will provide the best conditions for your new plants.
Prepping and Planting
The next step is transplanting the plant. Dig a hole twice the width of the root ball and about 1½ times as deep. Prepare backfill by mixing 1/3 good quality planting mix with 2/3 garden soil. Be sure the plant will not sit lower than the surrounding grade.The plant should sit about 1” above grade so water and soil don’t accumulate in the middle of the plant, as this leads to rotting of the roots or trunk. Create a shallow moat by mounding soil around the outer edge of your hole.
When taking the plant out of the pot, be careful not to break any major roots. Place your finger into the center of the bottom of the root ball and slowly flare out the soil. If there are larger roots winding around the soil you should gently pry them off the soil so they are no longer wrapping the root ball. Your plant is now ready to be placed in its hole.
Some plants like bougainvilleas have very fragile root balls and won’t make it if their root ball is disturbed. If you notice root damage or if you’d like some extra help, apply a root stimulator like B-1 to the root zone at planting and then two more times, two weeks apart. This helps speed up the replacement of root hairs that were scraped off during transplanting.
Feeding and Watering
Finally, it’s water and food time. Initially you can add a handful of an organic fertilizer or Gro-Power and gypsum to the soil mix as you are planting. Then, fill the moat around the plant and let it drain three times. Keep the soil moist but not drenched in the following weeks. The watering interval will vary depending on the plant, soil, and weather. Speak with one of Evergreen’s plant experts to figure out a watering schedule that best suits your micro-climate and soil conditions. Keep a daily eye on your newly planted friend over the next couple weeks.
If new plants show signs of stress or you’d like more information about how to maximize your success with new plants, call or visit one of our three convenient locations in Carmel Valley, Blossom Valley and Oceanside. Happy Plantings!
See also: The Secret to Success: Good Soil