Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Planting Instructions

1.  Dig your planting hole the same depth as your pot and twice as wide as your pot.  Give your new plant a soak in a bucket of water if it is at all dry.
2.  The way you prepare the plant depends on what you find inside the pot.  We'll go over that, below, with photos.  Our goal is to encourage the plant to extend its roots into your garden soil as soon as possible.  This is because the potting mix it is currently growing in was designed to drain water very rapidly so that it could survive living in a plastic pot.  After planting, the water drains even more rapidly out of that potting mix into your garden soil and your new plants could be in a tiny desert until they are able to reach that garden soil.  Below, you'll see how we recommend planting based on the condition of your new plant's roots.


Newly potted -  

This plant has not grown into it's pot thoroughly yet.  Much of the  potting mix has still not been reached, let alone held together by roots.  You have two options - Option 1. Set aside the loose potting mix and pot the plant with it's small root ball.  This plant will need careful attention to how much water is in the potting mix.  The best way to check how much moisture your plant has is to feel an inch or two down in the soil with a finger which would ideally be done at least once a week for the first couple of months.  If it's dry an inch down, water right away. Option 2. Carefully repot the plant and keep it somewhere easy to watch over while it grows a bit more.  In Western Oregon, it's best for plants to be planted well before hot weather comes though, so this time of year, you might wait for fall if you're going to wait at all.

Just right - 

This plant is very lucky.  It's being planted at an ideal time because it has many roots poised and ready to grow into the soil asap, but nothing is circling much or bound up.  Nothing needs to be done beyond a bit of very gentle loosening around the edges.


Slightly pot bound -

This plant needs a little help getting out into the soil, but it will be very happy and establish quickly.  Firmly loosen the roots, breaking as few as you can.  Some will break, but that is much better than circling around or staying stuck together.  See photo below.

Now the loosened roots will immediately have access to water and nutrient rich soil.



Badly pot bound -  

This plant needs help and drastic measures are called for.    The roots are too tightly bound to be able to be loosened so they must be cut.  We will discuss two options. 

Option 1 - Butterflying.

 You would use a saw or knife to split the root mass all the way across the bottom and halfway up.    Then loosen the roots as best you can.  The demonstration plant needed more help than that, so, in this case, option 2 was the best way to go.

Option 2 - Box cut

 Use a saw or knife to shave off most of the bound up roots that were touching the edge of the pot.   Repeat 4 times creating 4 sides.  The bottom also needs to be either shaved off or cut and loosened.

This is what your plant should look like from above when you are finished - a box with rounded corners.  The freshly cut roots will regrow as fast as they can.

3.  Set your plant in the ground so that it's potting mix level is the same as the ground around it or even a little high.  If the crown gets too low, it's more likely to suffer from problems with rot.

4.  Refill the hole with only the soil you took out.

5.  Optional - sprinkle a small amount of soil on top of the potting mix.  If a little soil washes down into the potting mix, it will hold a bit more water.

6.  Water thoroughly. 

7.   Optional, but highly recommended  - mulch with 2-5 inches of organic mulch, such as wood chips, leaves, bark, or grass clippings (with NO chemical herbicides, including weed and feed).  This retains moisture, benefits soil structure, suppresses weeds, and adds nutrients.

8.  Most plants will need regular watering through at least their first summer, even if they are typically drought resistant once established.  Don't over water, either, though.  For most plants, allow the soil to dry an inch or two down before watering again.  Test with your finger or take a peak with a small trowel.  It's important to check beneath the surface.


Happy Gardening Everyone!