Taking extra effort when you are planting a tree or shrub is excellent insurance for success of the plant. With proper planting, the root system develops faster, producing better leaf growth, healthier foliage and less susceptibility to freeze and drought damage. Container plants may be set out anytime of the year, providing soil is not frozen, or too wet. Extreme heat or cold is not ideal planting time since the plant is susceptible to stress, but proper monitoring and water are the main keys to survivability.
To plant: Dig hole twice as wide and twice as deep as the container. Backfill the hole adding 1/2 compost and 1/2 native soil blended together. Remove the plant from the container and check to see if the plant is pot bound. Most root systems do become pot bound and need to have roots broken apart slightly by hand or knife. Place the container-grown plant in the hole. Making sure the backfill is filled enough to have the root system top level with the surrounding ground. A yardstick across the top of the ground will ensure proper depth. Water the soil at this point and then fill in around the root ball, watering again when finished. A light mulch of bark chips, pine needles or compost will ensure moisture conservation. During growing months, make sure newly planted items are watered deeply approximately every 4-5 days. If planting in drought situations, water every 1-2 days. Winter month plants get a weekly watering. Never trust Mother Nature, make sure the plant is watered thoroughly – using a soaker hose for 15-20 minutes at a time.
On occasion, customers return to the nursery with plant problems. It is much easier to diagnose a disease or insect problem if a representative limb is placed in a Ziploc bag and brought to us.
If a water problem exists with a newly planted shrub, tree or houseplant, it is best for diagnostic reasons to bring in the plant, if we are unable to determine over the phone what the problem may be. When the plant is brought in we check the following….
Root system adequately broken up? This means lightly scoring the root ball before planting to break the roots out of the container shape. If the root ball still has the original shape of the pot, we know that new roots are not being encouraged into the soil. Soil preparation is the key to quickest growth and the best defense against poor water reserves. The soil in a container pot varies from native soil and generally has a tendency to dry out quicker than surrounding soil. Watering directly on the root system is recommended.
Root system developing? If the root system is brown and mushy, there is an imbalance of oxygen in the soil. Generally this is caused by the soil being saturated by too much water. If the soil is over the top of the original root ball, or covering the bottom portion of the stem, the plant will suffer from lack of oxygen.
Wilted or yellow leaves? Leaves that are drooping or have turned yellow, too brittle, or brown are indications of too little water. Water should be applied as the plant needs it – there can never be a set schedule for watering since climatic conditions change frequently. It is recommended to water deeply and less often than watering lightly each day. Soaking the entire root system will keep the root zone deeper, light watering forces the roots to come up in search of water.
Shriveled bark on stems? Shriveled bark is a good indication of over-watering. It is sometimes accompanied with brown or black stem tips and/or supple brown leaves. The suppleness in the stem and leaf will not last long and brittleness will occur due to the plants dehydration. The dehydration has occurred because the damage done to the root system prevents the water from going to the stems, then dying due to inadequate moisture uptake.
Plants at Forest Lake Greenhouses are inspected on a daily basis for watering needs. Not every plant is watered every day, but every plant is checked.