Many residents will be adding new shrubs to the landscape. Everyone
knows how to plant a shrub - Right? You open a hole, pop the plant in
the ground, water and away it grows. Well, let's back up a little. If
you want the plant to survive, the new shrub is going to need a lot more
care from the very beginning. Following are six things you just have to
do to be successful.
Photo by Tom MacCubbin
1. Make sure the plant is not pot bound -
When you purchase the plant check the root system. If the roots are
tightly wrapped in a ball, the plant may not survive. If you do purchase
this plant, the roots have to be disturbed or cut apart some. Otherwise,
the plant sits in the root ball.
2. Make sure the root system is
wet at planting time. Many plants are grown in a highly organic soil
mix. If this dries, you may not be able to get it wet again after
planting. It is best to make sure the root ball is wet by watering
several times before planing.
3. Prepare a hole wider but not
deeper than the root ball. If the plant is too deep, the roots may
suffocate and you end up with a rotting root system. You do not have to
add amendments to the fill soil. It won't hurt but most studies show
little value. Do check the soil pH for azaleas and other acid loving
plants and adjust if needed.
4. Skip feeding your plants when
they are set in the ground. Avoid tossing a bunch of fertilizer in the
planting hole. You could burn the roots and most would be washed away
during the early waterings. Wait 4 to 6 weeks and then apply the first
feeding to the surface of the soil.
5. Build a 4- to 6-inch berm
of soil around the edge of the root ball. This is to hold water at each
watering so it has to run down through the root ball and then out into
the surrounding soil.
6. Water your plantings. Water daily the
first few weeks. Then you can reduce the waterings to every 2 to 3 days
for the next few months. Some plants may need special waterings most of
the year. It can take time for roots to grow out and into the
surrounding soil to obtain the water they need.
You may feel you
can skip some of these steps and you might be able to with a few shrubs.
But most need good care. A lack of good care is usually the reason
azaleas, podocarpus, hibiscus, camellias and similar decline within a
year in local landscapes.