‘Container plants’

first_imgBy Dan RahnUniversity of GeorgiaMuch of Georgia has been dry this spring, and the outlook callsfor more of the same. So when you plant new container-grown treesor shrubs in your landscape, you’ll have to water them often. Youknow that, of course. But you may not know how critical it is.New container-grown plants may look like the older plants in yourlandscape, but they’re not.”In a very important way, they’re still container plants for thefirst few weeks,” said Jim Midcap, a Cooperative Extensionhorticulturist with the University of Georgia.Think about how they grew before you bought them. “Containerplants are grown in a mixture of bark and sand,” Midcap said.”That’s because those mixtures drain so well.”The bark-sand mixtures help nurseries avoid the root rot problemsthey might have with potting mixtures that hold moisture better.The only problem is that they also dry out fast.Oops”And once the mixture gets really dry, the bark is very hard toget wet again,” he said.Nurseries water their plants every day or every other day to keepthe mixtures from drying out. If you don’t keep that in mind whenthey reach your landscape, your new plants might not survive.”If you let the root ball dry out,” Midcap said, “you may thinkyou’re watering enough. But because the bark is so hard to rewet,the plant really isn’t getting enough moisture to survive.”It’s vital to give new trees or shrubs proper planting holes thatmake it easy for their roots to grow into the surrounding soil.But even if you do, he said, all of the plants’ roots are stillin that original potting mixture for the first four to six weeks.Water the ‘pot'”That’s what you need to water,” he said. Until the roots growinto the surrounding soil, the plant still depends for moistureon the bark-sand mixture in the root ball. “Water it as if itwere still in the container.”And keep watering it at least two to three times a week for thefirst four to six weeks. “On very warm or windy days the originalbark mixture can dry out thoroughly in 24 to 48 hours, eventhough the backfill soil around it stays wet,” Midcap said.If you delay planting a container plant, water it several times aweek, he said. Water it two to three straight times beforeplanting to make sure the root ball is thoroughly soaked.If the root ball still feels dry, he said, soak it in a bucketfor a while just before planting. Don’t plant it if the root ballis dry.Watch the ‘lid’In a clay soil, Midcap said, keep the top of the potting mixexposed. “If you cover it with a clay soil it can seal it up somoisture can’t get into that sand-bark mixture as readily,” hesaid.In sandy, well-draining soils, it’s hard to water too much. Butbe careful not to overwater in clay soils and areas that don’tdrain well, Midcap said. Overwatering in clay soils can killplants just as surely as not watering at all.If a new plant starts wilting or its older, inside leaves beginyellowing, he said, don’t give up on your plants.”All you need to do is get that root ball wet again and keep itwatered properly,” he said. “When it dries out, the root systemshuts down. And then a little later, the top begins showingstress. Give it enough water to get the root ball wet again andthe plant will start regenerating absorbing roots to take up thewater.”Then keep up the faithful watering. “Frequent watering of newlyplanted container shrubs, without overwatering, is crucial totheir survival,” Midcap said.(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of GeorgiaCollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)last_img

first_imgBy Dan RahnUniversity of GeorgiaMuch of Georgia has been dry this spring, and the outlook callsfor more of the same. So when you plant new container-grown treesor shrubs in your landscape, you’ll have to water them often. Youknow that, of course. But you may not know how critical it is.New container-grown plants may look like the older plants in yourlandscape, but they’re not.”In a very important way, they’re still container plants for thefirst few weeks,” said Jim Midcap, a Cooperative Extensionhorticulturist with the University of Georgia.Think about how they grew before you bought them. “Containerplants are grown in a mixture of bark and sand,” Midcap said.”That’s because those mixtures drain so well.”The bark-sand mixtures help nurseries avoid the root rot problemsthey might have with potting mixtures that hold moisture better.The only problem is that they also dry out fast.Oops”And once the mixture gets really dry, the bark is very hard toget wet again,” he said.Nurseries water their plants every day or every other day to keepthe mixtures from drying out. If you don’t keep that in mind whenthey reach your landscape, your new plants might not survive.”If you let the root ball dry out,” Midcap said, “you may thinkyou’re watering enough. But because the bark is so hard to rewet,the plant really isn’t getting enough moisture to survive.”It’s vital to give new trees or shrubs proper planting holes thatmake it easy for their roots to grow into the surrounding soil.But even if you do, he said, all of the plants’ roots are stillin that original potting mixture for the first four to six weeks.Water the ‘pot'”That’s what you need to water,” he said. Until the roots growinto the surrounding soil, the plant still depends for moistureon the bark-sand mixture in the root ball. “Water it as if itwere still in the container.”And keep watering it at least two to three times a week for thefirst four to six weeks. “On very warm or windy days the originalbark mixture can dry out thoroughly in 24 to 48 hours, eventhough the backfill soil around it stays wet,” Midcap said.If you delay planting a container plant, water it several times aweek, he said. Water it two to three straight times beforeplanting to make sure the root ball is thoroughly soaked.If the root ball still feels dry, he said, soak it in a bucketfor a while just before planting. Don’t plant it if the root ballis dry.Watch the ‘lid’In a clay soil, Midcap said, keep the top of the potting mixexposed. “If you cover it with a clay soil it can seal it up somoisture can’t get into that sand-bark mixture as readily,” hesaid.In sandy, well-draining soils, it’s hard to water too much. Butbe careful not to overwater in clay soils and areas that don’tdrain well, Midcap said. Overwatering in clay soils can killplants just as surely as not watering at all.If a new plant starts wilting or its older, inside leaves beginyellowing, he said, don’t give up on your plants.”All you need to do is get that root ball wet again and keep itwatered properly,” he said. “When it dries out, the root systemshuts down. And then a little later, the top begins showingstress. Give it enough water to get the root ball wet again andthe plant will start regenerating absorbing roots to take up thewater.”Then keep up the faithful watering. “Frequent watering of newlyplanted container shrubs, without overwatering, is crucial totheir survival,” Midcap said.(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of GeorgiaCollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)last_img

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