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How-to : Fertilization for Established Plants
Established plants can benefit from fertilization. Take a visual inventory of your landscape. Trees need to be fertilized every few years. Shrubs and other plants in the landscape can be fertilized yearly. A soil test can determine existing nutrient levels in the soil. If one or more nutrients is low, a specific instead of an all-purpose fertilizer may be required. Fertilizers that are high in N, nitrogen, will promote green leafy growth. Excess nitrogen in the soil can cause excessive vegetative growth on plants at the expense of flower bud development.
It is best to avoid fertilizing late in the growing season. Applications made at that time can force lush, vegetative growth that will not have a chance to harden off before the onset of cold weather.
Conditions : Full to Partial Sun
Full sunlight is needed for many plants to assume their full potential. Many of these plants will do fine with a little less sunlight, although they may not flower as heavily or their foliage as vibrant. Areas on the southern and western sides of buildings usually are the sunniest. The only exception is when houses or buildings are so close together, shadows are cast from neighboring properties. Full sun usually means 6 or more hours of direct unobstructed sunlight on a sunny day. Partial sun receives less than 6 hours of sun, but more than 3 hours. Plants able to take full sun in some climates may only be able to tolerate part sun in other climates. Know the culture of the plant before you buy and plant it!
Problems : Creating a Water Ring
A water ring, sometimes called a water well, is a mound of compacted soil that
is built around the circumference of a planting hole once a plant has been
installed. The water ring helps to direct water to the outer edges of a
planting hole, encouraging new roots to grow outward, in search of moisture.
The height of the mound of soil will vary from a couple of inches for 3 gallon
shrubs, to almost a foot for balled and burlapped trees, especially those
planted on a slope. Mulch over the ring will help to further conserve moisture
and prevent deterioration of the ring itself. Once a plant is established, the water ring may be leveled, but you should continue to mulch beneath the plant.
Tools : Watering Aides
No gardener depends 100% on natural rainfall. Even the most water conscious
garden appreciates the proper hose, watering can or wand.
Watering Cans: Whether you choose plastic of galvanized makes no difference,
but do look for generous capacity and a design that is balanced when filled
with water. A 2 gallon can (which holds 18 lbs. of water) is preferred by
most gardeners and is best suited for outdoor use. Indoor cans should be
relatively smaller with narrower spouts and roses (the filter head).
Watering Hose: When purchasing a hose, look for one that is double-walled, as it will resist
kinking. Quick coupler links are nice to have on ends of hoses to make
altering length fast. To extend the life of your hose, keep it wound around
a reel and stored in a shady area. Prior to winter freezes, drain hose.
Sprayers: Are commonly thought of as devices for applying chemicals, but
can really be a step saver for watering houseplants or small pots of annuals
rather that dragging out a hose or making numerous trips with a watering can.
The backpack sprayer is best suited for this. Take care not to use any kind
of chemical in tanks used for watering!
Sprinklers: Attached to the
ends of garden hoses, these act as an economical irrigation system. Standing
Spike Sprinklers are usually intended for lawns and deliver water in a circular pattern. Rotating Sprinklers deliver a circle of water and are perfect for lawns, shrubs and flower beds. Pulse-jet sprinklers cover large
areas of ground in a pulsating, circular pattern. The head usually sits up on a
tall stem, except for when watering lawns. Oscillating sprinklers are best for watering at ground level in a rectangular pattern.
Conditions : Normal Watering for Outdoor Plants
Normal watering means that soil should be kept evenly moist and watered regularly, as conditions require. Most plants like 1 inch of water a week during the growing season, but take care not to over water. The first two years after a plant is installed, regular watering is important for establishment. The first year is critical. It is better to water once a week and water deeply, than to water frequently for a few minutes.
How-to : Planting a Tree
Dig out an area for the tree that is about 3 or 4 times the diameter of the container or rootball
and the same depth as the container or rootball. Use a pitchfork or shovel to scarify the sides of the
If container-grown, lay the tree on its side and remove the container. Loosen
the roots around the edges without breaking up the root ball too much. Position tree in center of hole so that the best side faces forward. You are ready to begin filling in with soil.
If planting a balled and burlaped tree, position it in hole so that the best side faces forward. Untie or remove nails from burlap at top of ball and pull burlap back, so it does not stick
out of hole when soil is replaced. Synthetic burlap should be removed as it will not decompose like natural burlap. Larger trees often come in
wire baskets. Plant as you would a b&b plant, but cut as much of the wire away
as possible without actually removing the basket. Chances are, you would do more
damage to the rootball by removing the basket.
Simply cut away wires to leave several large openings for roots.
Fill both holes with soil the same way. Never amend with less than half original soil.
Recent studies show that if your soil is loose enough, you are better off adding little or no soil amendments.
Create a water ring around the outer edge of the hole. Not only will this
conseve water, but will direct moisture to perimeter roots, encouraging
outer growth. Once tree is established, water ring may be leveled. Studies show that mulched trees grow faster than those unmulched,
so add a 3"" layer of pinestraw, compost, or pulverized bark over backfilled
area. Remove any damaged limbs.
Diseases : Rhizactonia Root and Stem Rot
Rhizoctonia is a fungus that is found in most soils and enters the plant
through the roots or the stem at soil level.
Prevention and Control: First of all, do not overwater and if you suspect
Rhizoctonia may be your problem, decrease watering. If a plant is too far gone
(all the leaves from the bottom up are wilted), remove it. If your plant is in a container, discard the soil too.
Wash the pot with a 1 part bleach to 9 parts water solution.
Fungicides can be used, according to label directions. Consult a professional for a legal recommendation of what fungicide to use.
Diseases : Pythium and Phytophtora Root Rot
Rot Rot, Pythium or Phytophthora occurs when soil
moisture levels are excessively high and fungal spores present in the soil, come
in contact with the susceptible plant. The base of stems discolor and shrink,
and leaves further up the stalk wilt and die. Leaves near base are affected
first. The roots will turn black and rot or break. This fungi can be introduced
by using unsterilized soil mix or contaminated water.
Prevention and Control Remove affected plants and their roots, and discard surrounding soil. Replace with plants that are not susceptible, and only use fresh, sterilized soil mix. Hold back on fertilizing too. Try not to
over water plants and make sure that soil is well drained prior to planting.
This fungus is not treatable by chemicals.
Rhizoctonia Root and Stem Rot symptoms look similar to Pythium Root Rot, but the Rhizoctonia fungus seems to thrive in well drained soils.
Weeds : Preventing Weeds and Grass
Weeds rob your plants of water, nutrients and light. They can harbor pests and diseases. Before planting, remove weeds either by hand or by spraying an herbicide according to label directions. Another alternative is to lay plastic over the area for a couple of months to kill grass and weeds.
You may apply a pre-emergent herbicide prior to planting, but be sure that it is labeled for the plants you are wishing to grow. Existing beds may be spot
sprayed with a nonselective herbicide, but be careful to shield those plants you do not want to kill. Non-selective means that it will kill everything it comes in contact with.
Mulch plants with a 3 inch layer of pinestraw, pulverized bark, or compost. Mulch conserves moisture, keeps weeds down, and makes it easier to pull when necessary.
Porous landscape or open weave fabric works too, allowing air and water to be exchanged.
Pest : Scale Insects
Scales are insects, related to mealy bugs, that can be a problem on a wide variety of plants - indoor and outdoor. Young scales crawl until they find a good feeding site. The adult females then lose their legs and remain on a spot protected by its hard shell layer. They appear as bumps, often on the lower sides of leaves. They have piercing mouth parts that suck the sap out of plant tissue. Scales can weaken a plant leading to yellow foliage and leaf drop. They also produce a sweet substance called honeydew (coveted by ants) which can lead to an unattractive black surface fungal growth called sooty mold.
Prevention and Control: Once established they are hard to control. Isolate infested plants away from those that are not infested. Consult your local garden center professional or Cooperative Extension office in your county for a legal recommendation regarding their control. Encourage natural enemies such as parasitic wasps in the garden.
Glossary : Low Maintenance
Low maintenance does not mean no maintenance. It does mean that once a plant is established, very little needs to be done in the way of water, fertilizing, pruning, or treatment in order for the plant to remain healthy and attractive. A well-designed garden, which takes your lifestyle into consideration, can greatly reduce maintenance.
Glossary : Deciduous
Deciduous refers to those plants that lose their leaves or needles at the end of the growing season.
Glossary : Tree
Tree: a woody perennial with a crown of branches that begin atop a single stem or trunk. The exception to this rule is multi-trunk trees, which some may argue are really very large shrubs.
Glossary : pH
pH, means the potential of Hydrogen, is the measure of alkalinity or acidity. In horticulture, pH refers to the pH of soil. The scale measures from 0, most acid, to 14, most alkaline. Seven is neutral. Most plants prefer a range between 5.5 and about 6.7, an acid range, but there are plenty of other plants that like soil more alkaline, or above 7. A pH of 7 is where the plant can most easily absorb the most nutrients in the soil. Some plants prefer more or less of certain nutrients, and therefore do better at a certain pH.
Glossary : Heat Zone
The 12 zones of the AHS Heat Zone map indicate the average number of days each year that a given region experiences ""heat days"" or temperatures over 86 degrees F(30 degrees Celsius). That is the point at which plants begin suffering physiological damage from heat. The zones range from Zone 1 (less than one heat day) to Zone 12 (more than 210 heat days). The AHS Heat Zone, which deals with heat tolerance, should not be confused with the USDA Hardiness Zone system which deals with cold tolerance. For example: Seattle, Washington has a USDA Hardiness Zone of 8, the same as Charleston, South Carolina; however Seattle's Heat Zone is 2 where Charleston's Heat Zone is 11. What this says is that winter temperature in the two cities may be similar, but because Charleston has significantly warmer weather for a longer period of time, plant selection based on heat tolerance is a factor to consider.
Glossary : Plant Characteristics
Plant characteristics define the plant, enabling a search that finds specific types of plants such as bulbs, trees, shrubs, grass, perennials, etc.
Glossary : Large Shrub
A shrub is considered large when it is over 6 feet tall.
Glossary : Small Tree
A small tree is less than 30 feet tall.
Glossary : Flower Characteristics
Flower characteristics can vary greatly and may help you decide on a ""look or
feel"" for your garden. If you're looking for fragrance or large, showy flowers,
click these boxes and possibilities that fit your cultural conditions will be
shown. If you have no preference, leave boxes unchecked to return a greater
number of possibilities.
Glossary : Foliage Characteristics
By searching foliage characteristics, you will have the opportunity to look
for foliage with distinguishable features such as variegated leaves, aromatic
foliage, or unusual texture, color or shape. This field will be most helpful to you if
you are looking for accent plants. If you have no preference, leave this
field blank to return a larger selection of plants.
Glossary : Soil Types
A soil type is defined by granule size, drainage, and amount of organic material
in the soil. The three main soil types are sand, loam and clay. Sand has the
largest particle size, no organic matter, little to no fertility, and drains
rapidly. Clay, at the opposite end of the spectrum, has the smallest particle
size, can be rich in organic matter, fertility and moisture, but is often
unworkable because particles are held together too tightly, resulting in poor
drainage when wet, or is brick-like when dry. The optimum soil type is loam,
which is the happy median between sand and clay: It is high in organic matter,
nutrient-rich, and has the perfect water holding capacity.
You will often
hear loam referred to as a sandy loam (having more sand, yet still plenty of
organic matter) or a clay loam (heavier on the clay, yet workable with good
drainage.) The addition of organic matter to either sand or clay will result
in a loamy soil. Still not sure if your soil is a sand, clay, or loam? Try
this simple test. Squeeze a handfull of slightly moist, not wet, soil in your
hand. If it forms a tight ball and does not fall apart when gently tapped
with a finger, your soil is more than likely clay. If soil does not form a
ball or crumbles before it is tapped, it is sand to very sandy loam. If soil forms a
ball, then crumbles readily when lightly tapped, it's a loam. Several quick, light
taps could mean a clay loam.