Well, I made it through this year’s drought without running up my water bill to a ridiculous amount. To be completely truthful, I should confess that I lost some landscape plants because I was stingy with the water and now need to replace a few plants around the house.
Two of my three Peggy Martin roses didn’t make it. A bed that was once full of heirloom chrysanthemums has nearly all dies. My good horticulturist friend Kim in Wells said she also lost some plants and would have to replace them. Yep, many gardeners may have saved on the water bill, but will be spending money on replacing plants.
Good thing that the fall season is nearly here and we’ve had some decent rainfall. Fall is a great time to plant, move, or, perhaps in my case, replant landscape plants. Planting or transplanting at this time of year helps root systems develop in preparation for our hardest season – our typical hot, harsh summers.
A plant’s demand for water is less in cool and rainy fall weather, and plants have a better chance of quick recovery, especially if it has a chance to develop new roots before the next growing season.
Fall planting also gives them time to establish their roots and build up nutrient reserves needed for healthy growth next spring. If you are digging up and moving a plant from one location to another, let’s wait until the dead of winter and try to leave as much of the plant roots as possible. But for any perennial sold in a pot, fall is the best time to plant.
Proper planting is the most important step. Many problems with a tree or shrub can be traced back to improper planting. Dig the hole at least two feet wider than the size of the root system or root ball. A large hole will allow better root growth and is especially important in compacted soils.
Planting depth is of critical importance. Trees often are planted too deep in the hole. Carefully set the tree in the hole at the same depth or slightly higher than it was in the pot.
Container-grown specimens often have roots growing around the inside of the container. After removing the container, gently straighten the roots. If the roots are not straightened loosened from their position hugging the pot, they will not grow out at their full potential.
Fill the hole with soil about one-half full, lightly tamping it with your foot to remove any air pockets. Make sure the shrubs and tree are standing upright and not leaning. Water slowly to saturate the soil and remove any remaining air pockets, then finish filling the hole with soil.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to fertilize when you plant perennials at this time of the year. Fertilizing with nitrogen in the fall may contribute to cold damage transplant shock. Newly planted trees require routine and thorough watering. Water the tree regularly for at least three years after planting.
Make sure the plant is well watered for one to three weeks after transplanting. Adding a layer of mulch around the base of the shrub will help prevent weeds from becoming established and help soil to retain moisture.
Finally, if you are looking for new, or replacement, perennials, come by the Angelina County Farmers Market next Saturday, Sept 30 for the Volunteer Master Gardener fall plant sale. All plants are either native or very well adapted. Cash and checks, only, are accepted. Gates open at 8 am and they typically sell out well before lunch. Proceeds from the plant sale benefit horticultural education efforts by the AgriLife Extension office in Angelina County.