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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.
How-to : Fertilization for Annuals and Perennials
Annuals and perennials may be fertilized using: 1.water-soluble, quick release fertilizers; 2. temperature controlled slow-release fertilizers; or 3. organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion. Water soluble fertilizers are generally used every two weeks during the growing season or per label instructions. Controlled, slow-release fertilizers are worked into the soil ususally only once during the growing season or per label directions. For organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion, follow label directions as they may vary per product.
Conditions : Partial Shade
Partial Shade is defined as filtered light found beneath trees with high limbs. Partial shade usually offers some protection from direct afternoon sun.
Conditions : Part Sun
Part Sun refers to filtered light, with most sun being received during the afternoon hours. Shade usually occurs during the morning hours.
Conditions : Light Conditions
Unless a site is completely exposed, light conditions will change during the day and even during the year. The northern and eastern sides of a house receive the least amount of light, with the northern exposure being the shadiest. The western and southern sides of a house receive the most light and are considered the hottest exposures due to intense afternoon sun.
You will notice that sun and shade patterns change during the day. The western side of a house may even be shady due to shadows cast by large trees or a structure from an adjacent property. If you have just bought a new home or just beginning to garden in your older home, take time to map sun and shade throughout the day. You will get a more accurate feel for your site's true light conditions.
Conditions : Full to Partial Shade
Full shade means there is little or no light in the growing zone. Shade can be the result of a mature stand of trees or shadows cast by a house or building. Plants that require full shade are usually susceptible to sunburn. Full shade beneath trees may pose additional problems; not only is there no light, but competition for water, nutrients and root space.
Partial shade means that an area receives filtered light, often through tall branches of an open growing tree. Root competition is usually less. Partial shade can also be achieved by locating a plant beneath an arbor or lathe-like structure. Shadier sides of a building are normally the northern or northeastern sides. These sides also tend to be a little cooler. It is not uncommon for plants that can tolerate full sun or some sun in cooler climates to require some shade in warmer climates due to stress placed on the plant from reduced moisture and excessive heat.
Conditions : Light and Plant Selection
For best plant performance, it is desirable to match the correct plant with the available light conditions. Right plant, right place! Plants which do not receive sufficient light may become pale in color, have fewer leaves and a "leggy" stretched-out appearance. Also expect plants to grow slower and have fewer blooms when light is less than desirable. It is possible to provide supplemental lighting for indoor plants with lamps. Plants can also receive too much light. If a shade loving plant is exposed to direct sun, it may wilt and/or cause leaves to be sunburned or otherwise damaged.
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.
Conditions : Moist and Well Drained
Moist and well drained means exactly what it sounds like. Soil is moist without being soggy because the texture of the soil allows excess moisture to drain away. Most plants like about 1 inch of water per week. Amending your soil with compost will help improve texture and water holding or draining capacity. A 3 inch layer of mulch will help to maintain soil moisture and studies have shown that mulched plants grow faster than non-mulched plants.
How-to : Pruning Trees After Planting
It is critical to prune trees correctly from the beginning to assure proper growth and development. Young trees can be transplanted in a number of forms: bare root, balled & burlap and in containers. The more stress the plant undergoes in the transplant process, the more pruning that is required to compensate.
Deciduous trees like maples (those that loose their leaves in the fall) can be dug up and sold with their bare roots exposed. Because most of the root system is lost in digging, sufficient top growth should be removed to compensate for this loss. This may be done at the nursery before you buy the plant or you may have to prune at the time of planting. Select and head back the best scaffold branches, i.e. those branches which will form the main lateral structure of the future mature tree. Remove all other extraneous side branches. If the tree seedling does not have branches, allow it to grow to the desired height of branching then pinch it back to stimulate the lower buds to form branches.
Ball and burlap trees are dug up with their root systems somewhat intact. This was mostly done for conifers and broadleaf evergreens, but has become common for deciduous trees as well. Since some root mass is lost in the digging stage, a light pruning is generally called for. Head back the plant to compensate for this loss and to promote branching.
Trees that are grown in containers generally do not loose roots in the transplanting phase. Therefore you do not generally have to prune them unless there is some root injury or limb damage in the planting process.
Once you have your trees planted, be patient. Do not remove shoots from the trunk early on as these allow the tree to grow more rapidly and also shade the tender young trunk from sun-scald. Wait a few years to begin training the tree to its ultimate form.
How-to : Planting Shrubs
Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball and deep enough to plant at the
same level the shrub was in the container. If soil is poor, dig hole even wider
and fill with a mixture half original soil and half compost or soil
Carefully remove shrub from container and gently separate roots. Position in center of hole, best side facing forward. Fill in with original soil or an amended mixture if needed as described above. For larger shrubs, build a water well. Finish by mulching and watering well.
If the plant is balled-and-burlapped, remove fasteners and fold back the top of natural burlap, tucking it down into hole, after you've positioned shrub. Make sure that all burlap is buried so that it won't wick water away from rootball during hot, dry periods. If synthetic burlap, remove if possible. If not possible, cut away or make slits to allow for roots to develop into the new soil. For larger shrubs, build a water well.
Finish by mulching and watering well.
If shrub is bare-root, look for a discoloration somewhere near the base; this mark is likely where the soil line was. If soil is too sandy or too clayey, add organic matter. This will help with both drainage and water holding capacity. Fill soil, firming just enough to support shrub. Finish by mulching and watering well.
How-to : Staking Trees
Staking is done differently depending on the size and flexibility of the
tree, and the windiness of the planting site. Generally only trees that are planted in windy, exposed locations need to be staked. For most trees, a low stake is
preferred, to let the tree move naturally. For windy areas or flexible trees,
use a high stake. For trees more than 12 feet tall, use two low stakes on
opposite sides of the tree or several guy ropes. The ties used need to
accommodate growth and not cause bark damage with friction. Buckle-and-spacer
ties can be found at garden centers, they are expandable and have a protective
spacer. Ties without spacers should be formed into a figure eight to create
padding. Latest studies have shown that when staking a tree, provide enough
leeway so that the tree can move back and forth in the wind. Stronger roots will
develop this way. If the tree can not move back and forth, these important roots
will not develop and the tree might fall over during a storm, once stakes are removed. When planting a tree, stake at the time of planting if staking is a necessity.
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.
Fungi : Leaf Spots
Leaf spots are caused by fungi or bacteria. Brown or black spots and patches may be either ragged or circular, with a water soaked or yellow-edged appearance. Insects, rain, dirty garden tools, or even people can help its spread.
Prevention and Control: Remove infected leaves when the plant is dry. Leaves that collect around the base of the plant should be raked up and disposed of. Avoid overhead irrigation if possible; water should be directed at soil level. For fungal leaf spots, use a recommended fungicide according to label directions.