It is the root of everything

Unless you modify the vast planting area, native soil is the best medium for the plants added. If the planting hole is decorated with peat moss, pine bark or compost, all of which are highly degradable in organic matter and our humid, warm climate, the microorganisms break it down and the soil level drops. To complicate matters further, organic matter holds water longer than the surrounding native soil, so the plant tries to grow in a bowl of oatmeal – in all the pore spaces, usually half of which contain water and the rest a source of ambient air. oxygen – they fill up with water and the plant drowns. The ground cover should be two to three times the size of the planting site and should be 2-3 inches deep if well settled. Do not touch the stems of the plant – avoid volcanic cover. The stem tissue rots and is a haven for herbivorous rats.

Fertilizer, especially nitrogen fertilizer, promotes the growth of leaf tissue. Your plant, which is often watered several times a day in a nursery, now needs to develop a vastly expanded root system to support top growth. Do not apply fertilizer at all in the first year; then look for a slow-release fertilizer with a rate lower than the most common 10-10-10. The numbers in the sequence indicate the amount of NPK macroelements available for plant growth. But nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) are highly soluble in water and wash with rain or watering. Phosphate (P) is tightly retained by soil compounds, and soil tests throughout the state show excessive levels of essential but non-mobile nutrients. You can even order a large bag of slow-release fertilizer from kindergarten or online to get a balanced ratio of fertilizer.

So back to remodeling my yard. The 18 semi-double (meaning they have sexual parts and support pollinators) sasanquas, shipped in 3-gallon containers, looked beautiful. But when I took them out of the containers, I found that they were much longer than optimal in the pots and had a dense root ball that was several inches above the root spot and was full of woody, surrounding roots.

The medium was mostly pine bark and this had to be removed. As I mentioned above, the organic medium decomposes rapidly in our warm, humid environment, and the plant eventually sinks into the soil, and the plant gets into the soil below the optimum. We have also found that many harmful weeds, especially strawberry grass and explosive seed pods, are almost always found in this medium. Even for an annual plant, try to remove at least the top 2 inches of soil, put it in a plastic bag, and throw it out in the trash.

The roots above the root eruption should be cut off to make it free, so when you place the plant in the soil, the encounter should be just above or slightly above the ground line. The roots growing in a circle don’t miraculously change direction when placed in the ground – either they have to be disassembled with their fingers if they’re crumbly and not woody, or, as in my case, I had to do it. I made several vertical cuts in the root ball with the Sawzall, and I still had to remove some extremely woody and circumferential roots with my Felco pruners. I ended up with a drastically reduced root ball. In order to restore the balance between the roots and the upper woody growth, I pruned about a third of the top and made cuts that encouraged outward growth for better light and air movement.

Using a 2.5-pound mat, I dug a hole that is three times wider but not deeper than the now much smaller root system, and I positioned the plant so that the root damping rises slightly above the ground line. I gently tapped the native soil and mulched it with several inches of pine straw, making sure the ground cover was several inches away from the stem. Irrigation is critical. You can buy shrub bags that slowly let water into the soil. Or if you’re on a budget like me (you can’t really imagine how expensive it is to paint a wooden house with a round porch), you can buy plastic buckets, drill a small hole in it, and let it drip. , add water to your plant. Sprinkle the bucket on black and it will almost disappear – and if you put bricks in it, it won’t blow in a big storm.

The podocarpus adhered three 1-gallon plants to a 3-gallon container; they didn’t even grow up, which was a blessing. Poor Edward, 79, expected to be a pretty good-sized plant hedge as a buffer between us and the street. Instead, he looks at 14 small, 1-gallon individuals lining up in this area, leaving us with 28 to transplant, keep alive, and figure out how to use in the future.

Even for herbaceous perennials, experts recommend “washing” the roots to see if they are too dense and removing potted media that is likely to contain weed seeds and will be incompatible with native soil – unless planted in full pots. with potted medium. The sage I planted had a very tight root ball, which I loosened considerably and cut back on top. It grows back quickly and blooms to frost. If I had gotten them as soon as they got to kindergarten, the root dumpling would probably have needed very little teasing, but I would still have removed as much medium as possible. “Root washing” is the term for this more widely practiced practice today.

The local nursery procures the plants from many sources and has trained staff who are there for a specific purpose to provide guidance and advice. Talk to them and ask them to help you examine the plants when you buy. Often, they do not even know that some of these problems can occur with plants sourced from very reputable and well-established growers. You are now equipped with knowledge and can solve the problems of the plants you have purchased, so you will have the right amount of space and you can grow to a mature size instead of shortening the life of your competitor.

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