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Weekly Gardening Guide: Better Late Then Never!

August 14, 2015

Is it too late to Plant?

I swear I will keep this short and sweet!
Why? Because my keyboard has sawdust underneath the keys and half of the letters aren’t working properly!

Anyway -  the topic of this weeks blog tip is “Is it too late to plant”?

We get this question CONSTANTLY. It has to be the most common question customers ask us besides “where’s Winnie?”

The answer to those questions is almost always; “No”, and “in the pond chasing geese” respectively.

 We start to hear this question right around mid June when  the temperatures start to get into the high 20’s and people start to have to bring their hoses out to keep their plants happy and wet.

It is a prime example of when a little bit of knowledge is a bad thing!

Most people who call themselves gardeners, or at least enjoy keeping healthy landscapes have at least a passing knowledge of planting and transplanting trees, shrubs and perennials. Many of you will tell me that you pull the plant out of the pot, rough up the roots a bit and then press it gently into the dirt. Or you’ll tell me that you split your hostas in early spring and plant them with a Root Booster fertilizer to reduce the shock…. And to that I say GREAT! But then inevitably you’ll tell me that you’re afraid to buy anymore plants this season because “its too late to plant now, isn’t it?”

This assumption stems from a related issue – TRANSPLANTING!

While both involve putting a plant in the ground, only one involves severing roots, disturbing rootzone soil structure and generally stressing the plant out – that is of course, TRANSPLANTING which does that! Planting, on the other hand, at least as it relates to the plants in our store, involves taking a plant which is CONTAINER GROWN (with only a few exceptions) removing 100% of its roots from the pot, and relocating them into a much more spacious rootzone without disrupting the soil structure surrounding the roots!
The only thing that is changing for this plant is its geographic location -  well, and the fact that it now has the chance to establish a larger rootzone in the healthy soil surrounding it. That tree is movin on up to a deluxe apartment in the ground!

Think about the crowded pot the tree or shrub has spent the last several months in at our nursery, drying out  quickly, going through drastic temperature changes throughout the day, and quickly depleting the nutrients in the rootbound soil. Now consider the upgrade to your spacious lawn or garden bed were the tree can finally stretch its legs, gather naturally available nutrients from the soil, buffer soil temperature more gradually, and retain moisture much longer! It’s a definite upgrade, any time of year!

Sometimes you will see some shock to the tree following planting in the form of defoliation or leaf loss. This can happen any time of year but is more likely to be visible during the heat of the summer. This is because, try as you might, it is sometimes difficult to completely avoid shocking the roots when transferring them from pot to soil. Whether you’re too rough with removing it from the pot, or if the tree is simply adjusting to its new surroundings, this is common on new plantings and is almost never a serious concern. Root shock usually expresses itself with a week or 2 of minor leaf loss, followed quickly by the plant pushing out new leaves and continuing its happy life in your garden!

 So, to wrap up what is my shortest post ever (and is still pushing 650 words) - NO it is literally never too late to put a container grown tree, shrub or perennial in the ground (so long as the ground hasn’t frozen solid yet I suppose ) the key, as with any new planting, is just diligent aftercare. But THAT might be a whole post on its own.

As always, please feel free to call, email or come into the store with any questions or concerns about this or any other gardening topic on your mind!

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Happy Gardening!


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