After attending the plant sale last month, gardeners are anxious to get their plants in the ground. The questions I have received most often recently surround the preparation of the soil for planting. This is a very important question. Proper planting now will help you avoid problems later.
Planting involves much more than just digging a hole and sticking plants in the ground. In order to have healthy, vigorous growth of plants in the landscape, proper planting is crucial. A favorable environment for the developing root system is vital to rapid plant establishment.
Prior to the preparation of the planting site, you should have your soil tested. Taking a soil sample for analysis will determine lime and fertilizer requirements. Soil testing will reveal nutrient availability. Soil test kits are available here at the Shelby County Extension office.
When you are visiting nurseries or plant sales purchase high-quality plants. Be certain that the plants you purchase are pest and disease free. I strongly recommend sliding plants out of pots to examine their root systems. You should check for white, fibrous roots as they will produce a stronger and healthier plant. If the plants are root-bound, score the roots before incorporating them into the ground. This will ensure the plants develop healthier root systems that will then spread laterally into the soil.
If you are unable to get the plants in the ground right away, place them in a shaded area and keep the roots moist. Make sure to water plants thoroughly before planting them. Apply two to three inches of mulch on the soil surface to conserve moisture and prevent weeds. Do not pile mulch up against the stem or truck of the plant (“volcano mulching”). Watering is critical for the establishment of new plants. The soil should be uniformly moist, not soggy. Additionally, remember that the amount of water required will depend on the type of plant as well as the soil type.
I wish you much success as you prepare your flowerbeds for planting. I cannot wait to see how well my newly purchased plants will perform this season! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me at 901-752-1207.
Photo Credit: Purdue University Extension Master Gardener Program