Garden Clippings

| April 2007

Planting fever is extremely contagious this time of year.

April is when everyone wants to put out new plants. For serious gardeners, it is one of many times during the year they will trek to the garden center to pick up new additions for the garden. It's also the time of year when the neighbor who rarely spends time in the yard plants a shrub that might not get any attention the rest of the year.

The act of planting may be the most important element of a plant's ability to flourish and mature.

Digging the hole

After selecting a healthy plant from the nursery, it's time to prepare the planting hole. The hole should be deep enough to allow the plant to sit at the same depth as it does in the container, or the ball level for field-dug plants. The width of the hole should be twice as wide as the container or root ball.

There are times, however, when these rules do not apply. For example, when a plant is going to be placed in a wet area of the garden. In this case, experienced gardeners may excavate a hole that is not as deep as the root ball, so the plant sits high. This allows the plant to root in, avoiding the possibility that it will drown out before it becomes established. In conditions where rocks or other obstacles are encountered as the hole is being dug, it's fine to forego the twice as wide rule, in order to get the plant in a perfect location.

Getting the plant ready

Once the hole is prepared, it's time to get the plant ready. For container-grown plants, it's important to carefully remove the pot and examine the root system.

Container-grown plants that have only grown in the pot for a short time may need a teasing of the roots with your fingers at the edge of the root ball, to encourage them to grow out of the confines forced by the pot's walls.

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