42May 11, 2016

Even with a rainy weekend, it was nice to see all the people out buying plants for Mom. Now let’s take a moment to tell Mom how to take care of those plants.

If you received a hanging flowering basket, keep in mind that those plants need to be fertilized on a regular schedule if you want the plants to remain healthy and to keep on blooming. You will need to initially fertilize the plants every two weeks. Once you get into July and the plants are really full and you have to water the plants once or twice a day, you will probably have to fertilize the plants every 7 to 10 days.

If you received a tree or shrub as a gift, the preparation of the soil is critical for the health and longevity of the plant. When the plant was purchased, there usually is a tag on the plant that will tell you how much sun the plant needs and what type of soil that the plant prefers. If you have sandy or clay soil, you will have to do a lot more preparation of the soil. In some cases, removing all of the soil and replacing the soil with bagged garden soil is the best way to give the plants’ roots a great new home. You should also pour a solution of plant starter fertilizer around the root zone of the plant to aid the plant in putting out a new root system. If you planted a tree, using a tree staking kit should stabilize the new tree. The kit will hold the top of the tree steady, allowing the roots to grow without the swaying of the tree disturbing the roots that will be coming out of the root ball of the tree.

People have found that many plants in their yard have been damaged by the winter that we just had. The reason is that the soil froze and thawed all winter. This freezing and thawing cycle, repeated all winter can cause major damage to the roots of the plant. In the spring, the roots were so badly damaged that the plant did not have enough of a root system to take up the water and nutrients that were needed to keep the plant healthy. In some cases, the plant may be dead. If you take your fingernail and lightly scratch the bark, you should see green under the bark. If you don’t see green under the bark, you should prune the plant back until you do see green under the bark. If you prune back enough to make the plant misshapen, you may want to remove the plant and replace it with another plant.

If the plant appears to be slow in growing, an application of water and fertilizer may help the plant to put out new roots and help the plant to begin growing normally again.

The alternate freezing and thawing we had this past winter underscores the importance of putting a layer of much around the base of the plant in the late fall. This additional layer of mulch will help to stop the alternate freezing and thawing of the soil. This in turn will help to save the plant from winter root damage.

If you have purchased small vegetable plants for your garden, it is always advisable to plant them on a cloudy or rainy day. When new plants are planted on a sunny or very windy day, the plant is struggling to get a new root system established and to provide the plant with the water that is needed by the plant. A sunny and/or windy day will cause the plant leaves to lose a lot of water to the elements. If the roots can’t supply sufficient water to the leaves, the plant may die. You can also help the plant along by initially watering the plant with a dilute solution of fertilizer. The fertilizer will encourage the roots to develop faster.

As your plants begin to grow again in your yard, the insects will awaken and begin to feed on your trees, shrubs and perennials. You should be checking your plants on a weekly basis and if you see the beginning of an insect problem, you should begin to treat the problem immediately. If you get the problem under control while the problem is in its early stages, it is much easier to eradicate the insects. If you wait too long, the insect may win the battle.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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