A Comment on How to Put in Native Plants

by Lorraine on November 19, 2011

I love it when someone such as Barbara Eisenstein who is very experienced and an expert in the use of native plants (Especially the grasses), comments on something in my blog.   She has provided some excellent information that I want to share with others.

Plus, now I don’t have to write anything….which is sometimes a challenge for me.   Thanks Barbara!   And she also has a wonderful blog as well….

http://weedingwildsuburbia.com

“Hi Lorraine. Thank you for this! A couple of thoughts about your recommendations on planting. I find it better to dig the hole no deeper than the distance from the crown of the plant (it should be where the top of the soil is) to the bottom of the pot. If you make it deeper the plant tends to sink a bit as the loosened soil compresses and then it is too low.

Second, I usually loosen the potting soil and sometimes even try to remove it if it has a lot of organic particles in it. If you leave a very organic potting soil in the planting hole, over time the organics decompose leaving air pockets in the hole. In fact I am right now experimenting with washing off a lot of the potting soil unless the plant has very sensitive and/or brittle roots (like bush poppy, Dendromecon; flannel bush, Fremontodendron; and a few others).

I am a bit nervous about using “water probes” to check for moisture. Not sure if you were suggesting them in your post. The water probes are battery operated probes that register moisture on a dial or display. I have had several reports from people who used them that they break easily giving inaccurate readings. I like to actually gently dig into the soil without damaging the plant’s roots, to check to see if it is moist. Sometimes I use a soil probe (not a water probe), to extract a cylinder of soil.

And finally, the concern with walking on, or digging in, very wet soil is that it compacts the soil. It may break plant roots, but more importantly it can compact the soil so natural pores in the soil collapse. It takes a long time for soil to reestablish a good structure if it has been heavily compacted, so it is best to not garden when the soil is very wet. If you must, some people put down planks of wood to walk on so their weight is distributed.

Wow! Bet this is way more than you wanted to see from me. Anyway, there is always discussion among gardeners about the best practices. The one about removing soil from the roots is probably one that is greatly debated. If washing or shaking off potting soil damages the root hairs, then it can be a bad idea. It probably depends on the plant type, but I would love to hear from others who do it one way or the other.”

 

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Country Mouse 12.03.11 at 12:04 pm

Good tips in this and the last post. I just spent a couple hours hand watering all my recent plantings – unfortunately many of them are beyond the reach of my hose so I have to carry a watering can to them. After a year they’ll be “on their own” as they are locally native, but I want em where I can see em and enjoy em! We’ve had three days of high winds and no rain for several weeks – and I’ve learned from past experience. Nice thing about winter watering is you don’t have to worry about overdoing it!

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