Basic Plant Propagation

Plant propagation is a cost free or at least very inexpensive way to grow your plant stock. It only takes a few tools that you probably already have: good secateurs, a shovel, planting medium, rooting hormone and a few pots.

Many books have been written to provide detailed information on plant propagation. This article will briefly go over the basics.


The most common method of plant propagation is collecting seeds from plants you already have in the garden. Some plants like lettuce and celery will only germinate if exposed to sunlight; others, like phlox and allium, only if they are completely covered.

Most plants will benefit from being started indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost. There are a few plants that either do not like being transplanted or are hardy enough to take a light frost. Those plants are better off being planted directly outdoors. A few examples: peas, carrots, corn, beans, nasturtiums, morning glory, cucumbers.

Most perennials will greatly benefit from being sown directly outdoors at the end of summer. That will give the plants the chance to experience their natural cold cycle and make them emerge stronger and in their own time in spring.

Hard seeds like nasturtiums, morning-glory and four o’clocks will germinate easier if soaked in warm water for 12 hours prior to planting.

When: Plant annuals in spring, perennials and biennials at the end of summer, when the heat died down a bit.


A prolific way to increase your garden stock is the division of mature plants. Most herbaceous perennials really need dividing in order to remain healthy and blooming. Among those, a few examples: heuchera, daylilies, pampas grasses.

Other plants, like daisies and bee balms will quickly spread if left to their own accord. Dividing them is a good way to control their growth and fill up bare spots in your garden.

To divide the plant you can either dig it out completely and break the root ball into smaller parts or dig out a part of the clump with a shovel. If you can do that, the advantage is that the remaining plant roots will remain undisturbed.

When: Divide spring blooming plants in the fall and fall blooming plants in spring.

Rhizomatous plants

Among these: bearded irises, peonies, lily-of-the-valley, mint.

For small rhizomes, just pull out of the dirt and replant somewhere else. For larger rhizomes, dig the plant out at the end of summer after it finished blooming and cut up the root in 2-4 inch sections with leaf growth at one end.

When: End of summer or fall, after they have finished their vegetative cycle.


This works great with ground covers, strawberries, raspberries, and spider plant. Take a runner and tie it down to the ground with a pin. After the plant develops roots you can cut it loose from the mother plant and move it someplace else.

When: whenever they decide to grow runners.


Most woody plants can be propagated like that, especially roses, for whom this is the basic method of propagation. Other plants to be propagated by cuttings: butterfly bush, weigela, pelargonium, fuchsia, delphinium, forsythia, chrysanthemums, hydrangeas, African violets.

There are four basic types of cuttings: tip cuttings (soft, green), stem cuttings (woody), leaf cuttings (leaf and petiole) and root cuttings.

For stem and tip cuttings, a minimum 3 inch length will ensure the viability of the plant. Wounding the cutting (making a longitudinal cut or crushing the bottom) will stimulate the plant to grow new roots.

Many plants, like mint, will grow roots if placed in water. Other plants, like African violets and hydrangeas, will be happy to root if you stick a leaf with a long petiole in the dirt. For plants with large leaves, like hydrangea, it helps to cut up about half of the leaf to lessen the strain on the developing root system to feed it.

If you have rooting hormone, I strongly recommend it.

When: For fall blooming perennials and annuals, start cuttings when the danger of frost has passed in spring. For spring blooming perennials, start the cuttings in the fall and protect them under cloches (a glass jar would work just fine) over winter. It is very advantageous to the plant to go through a cold season in its natural surroundings, it makes for a much healthier root system. This is especially true for roses.

Bulbs, corms and tubers

Some bulbs, like lilies, will start spreading out in a scaly pattern. Each scale with roots can be separated and start a new plant.

Onions can be vertically chopped and divided. For hyacinths there is a method called scooping: cut up the roots off a bulb and scoop out the central part right underneath them to expose the bulb layers. Place the bulb upside down half buried in a tray full of wet sand. Place the tray in a dark warm location. In 12-14 weeks bulblets will start forming on the top of the large bulb. Plant the bulb upside down with the bulblets right below the surface. Let the plant go through its vegetative cycle. The bulbs can be lifted and separated in the fall.

When dividing tubers, make sure to have at least one viable “eye” on each section.

When: In the fall, after the plants went dormant.

Dropping and stooling

Dropping consists of pushing down and covering most of the plant stems with compost or good quality dirt, and wait for the plant stems to develop individual roots. The plants can be separated and replanted. This works for heathers and rhododendrons.

For the stooling method mound up dirt high around the bottom of the plant, to give the stems an opportunity to grow roots. A few examples of plants for which this method works: lilacs, willows and dogwoods.

When: Drop and stool in spring, divide and cut in the fall.

Please keep in mind that some plants will successfully propagate through several of these methods.

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Guide to Protect Your Plants From Frost

How does Frost Damage Plants?

Frost Causes the water in the plant cells to freeze which damages the cell wall and as a result the inside structure of the plant is damaged. When the ground is frozen, roots cannot take up any water to feed the plant and as a result dies.

Don’t be caught out!

Be aware, early frosts may occur From September onwards or late in spring. When an early frost occurs, not only have you not prepared your garden for cold weather and frost, the plants themselves may not have prepared themselves either and an unexpected frost can occur when they are not ready. Plants prepare themselves for the winter months by:

    • Materials and chemicals – some plants store extra chemicals and materials that act as an anti-freeze lowering the freezing point of cell contents. This process usually starts when the days become shorter in autumn.
    • Antifreeze – this is where the plant is able to prevent water in the cells from freezing even below freezing point. In order for this to happen, plants have to be in a cold environment for about a week or so before freezing conditions occur.
  • Bark – this insulates the plant to prevent water freezing inside the plant cells

During spring there will be new growth and buds appearing, which is vulnerable and has no resistance against sudden freezing conditions.

A few things to Consider

  • Golden or variegated varieties of plants are usually more vulnerable and less hardy.
  • Research hardiness of plants so you don’t waste money and time planting them if they cannot withstand the cold.
  • Shelter will be required for tender plants.
  • Plants with flower buds and new shoots are less likely to be damaged in east-facing sites.
  • Avoid if possible colder areas in your garden called ‘frost pockets’ and are usually the lowest point in your garden or near fences and garden walls.
  • Newly planted and young plants will be more vulnerable to frost damage than fully established specimens as they have not developed any resistance to frosty conditions.
  • Pruning and cutting back plants encourages new growth which will be damaged by cold weather and/or frost.

Protecting Your Plants

If you didn’t plan ahead in spring and consider the cold weather and frost when planting, then protecting your plants this winter may also involve a bit of re shuffling of some plants around your garden to provide extra shelter for them. Protecting your plants will also include covering them with fleece, bringing them indoors as well as adding mulch.

  • Evergreen plants will need a thick layer of mulch on the surrounding soil to keep the solid from freezing so water can be taken up by the plant so they don’t dehydrate. Fleece?
  • Tender Plants ideally need to be in pots over the winter so they can easily be moved indoors to protect from the frost and cold weather.

Growing in the Open: if they cannot be potted up and moved indoors, they can simply be covered in fleece. The ground around the plant should be covered in a mulch to prevent the soil freezing. In the spring new shoots can be covered with a bell-cloche until they are more established.

Potted: Move any potted tender plants indoors to protect from the cold weather.

    • Plants growing against a wall can simply be protected with fleece.
    • Low growing Plants will need to be protected from wet weather so a cloche is ideal to keep them covered. You can then surround them with gravel or grit to ensure they will have effective drainage.
    • Tree Ferns, Cordylines and Palms will need theircrowns (centre of the plant) protecting by tying their leaves into bunches and the trunk of den trees should be wrapped in fleece.
    • Tuberous Plants, once the frost has blackened the foliage, you should carefully dig them up taking care not to chop them in half with your spade. Remove the soil form the tubers and place somewhere cool and dry to allow the tubers to become fully dormant. After a few days, store the tubers in almost dry compost in a frost free place over winter such as the greenhouse.
    • Plants in Pots need to be moved indoors. If you can’t move the pots indoors then you will need to use pot feet to prevent waterlogging. If you don’t have frost proof pots they may crack in the frost so you should insulate them with a layer of bubble wrap or hessian.
    • Frost Pockets are the coolest places in your garden and can be found by a wall or fence and at the lowest ground levels. These areas can be damaging to plants so if possible you will need to dig up and move these plants elsewhere in your garden. If not remove some of the lower growth to improve cold air drainage.
    • New plants Avoid planting any new plants as newly planted and young plants will be more vulnerable to frost damage than fully established specimens as they have not developed any resistance to frosty conditions.
    • Know which ones are the Less hardy plants in your garden. They ideally need to be moved to a sheltered spot such as under a tree or next to well established shrubs if possible if they are in an exposed position. They will need to be covered in fleece and mulching may be necessary too depending on how resistant to frost they are.
    • Plants with flower buds and new shoots if not already, need to be in east-facing sites.
  • Do not prune and cut back plants before the winter or during, as the older foliage is vital as it will help to protect the rest of the plant and hopefully will take the hit of any frost damage. Cutting back encourages new growth which will be damaged by cold weather and/or frost.

How to detect frost damaged plants

Overall the general signs you need you look out for are withering, scorching or browning of leaves, limp stems, brown fruit.

  • With hardy Evergreen plants the leaves becomes scorched and often turn brown.
  • Tender Young Growth causing scorching of the leaves and pale brown patched will appear between the leaf veins, usually on the more exposed surfaces.
  • Tender perennials usually become blackened and the plant stem will be limp and distorted.
  • Blossom and young fruits will have a corky layer form at the flower end of the fruit
  • Bedding plants and some tender vegetables will show leaf scorch and browning
  • Some shrubs may have the spotting on the leaves
  • The foliage of certain plants appears water-soaked and dark-green and will then turn black.

Checking for Signs of Life

After the winter, a great way of detecting frost damaged plants is to scrape the outer layer of the stem away and if it is sappy and green then it shows a sign of life. If the stem has no sap and is soft, dry and brittle this will mean that the plant may well have died. However, you cannot tell if this is the case with all plants, as climbers with woody stems don’t have green sap at this time of year, so you will not be able to tell whether they are dead or alive.

What to do if your plants are damaged

If your plant does appear damaged, so not give up hope as you never know, it may well recover. There are ways to prevent any further damage to your plants.

    • Protect them from the morning sun to prevent them from thawing out to quickly. If they cannot be moved then cover them in black plastic to block out the sun.
    • Cut back frosted growth in spring to prevent further die back and encourage fresh, new growth. You should be looking to cut back to an undamaged side shoot or bud.
    • Feed damaged plants with a slow release plant food to encourage strong and healthy new growth. The fertiliser will need to be balanced with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
    • Dig up small tender plants and place them in the greenhouse. Provided they were not exposed to long period of cold and frost they should recover and start to produce new growth.
  • Newly planted specimens if there has been a hard frost will lift up above ground level if just recently planted. Check them regularly to re-firm the ground around them and keep the roots in contact with the soil.

Remember: Many plants can actually recover from frost if you give them time, do not just give up on a plant that has been frost damaged. Even if there is no sign of life above ground, the root system may still be okay and you may start to see some growth over a few weeks. If no re-growth has appeared by mid-summer you may well need to replace the plant.


Snow actually acts as an insulator; however it can still damage plants. If there is a heavy covering, the weight of it can cause leaves, branches and stems to break. To minimise damage you will need to shake snow off the branches of large trees, shrubs and hedges. Even if the snow doesn’t break the branches it can leave them distorted. Snow on greenhouses or cold frames prevents the light from getting through so it will need to be removed. You will also need to avoid as much as you can from walking on snow covered grass as it damages the turf and will leave it looking unsightly.

Hardiness Scale

Hardiness zones are useful as a guide only as there are many other factors to take into

account on how a plant may survive in your garden. For example, a damp shaded spot my kill a plant that in the same garden, would survive in a border which slopes away and has sandy soil.

How hardy is it on a scale from 1 – 11. One will survive arctic winters, eleven is tropical. The hardy zones vary across the UK from 7 to 10. Generally most of England, Scotland, wales and centre of Ireland are zone 8.

You can see the hardiness scale to the right, so before purchasing any plants check out your area first so you know how hardy your plants need to be to stand the best chance of surviving this winter.

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All About Aquarium Plants

When planning an aquarium, one of the key elements you will need is a large variety of aquarium plants. Aquarium plants are not only pleasing to look at but they also serve an essential function in your aquarium. They come in several different types and there are some basic guidelines that will help you choose the best plants for your aquarium. When you are planning the environment for your fish, having a basic understanding of aquarium plants will help to make your efforts a success and allow you to provide the best possible environment for your fish.

Aquarium Plants

Having an adequate selection of aquarium plants in your fish tank or aquarium is one of the best choices you can make for the wellbeing of your fish. They help to mimic your fish’s natural environment as well as providing several other essential functions. Some of the benefits that aquarium plants provide include improving the water quality by allowing for natural biological filtration. They also remove nitrates from the water and work to oxygenize the water resulting in healthier fish. Aquarium tanks with plants have fish which are calmer and exhibit reduced signs of stress as well as increasing their likelihood of breeding.

Once you have decided that adding aquarium plants to your aquarium is the healthiest option for your fish, you can then go about selecting which plants you would like to include. When first starting out, it is important to start with a large quantity of plants at once. This will ensure that there are more plants than algae in the fish’s environment. Having a large density of plants in the aquarium tank will ensure that the algae present do not absorb more nutrients than the plants. This is the main reason that aquariums which a small amount of plants do not flourish. Large quantities of plants can be obtained at club auctions at very reasonable prices.

A Variety Of Plants

When selecting your plants, there are a variety of available species to choose from. The best species for a first time planting are those that are relatively cheap and fast growing. This will ensure that your aquarium tank will be ready in as short a time as possible. Species to choose from include Vallisneria, Cabomba, Hygrophilia and hornwort. When selecting your plants, it is important to inspect them for snails and snail eggs. The best plants to start with that are guaranteed to be virtually free of snails are Hygrophilla lacustris (willowleaf hygro) and Nomaphila stricta (temple plant).

Adding Your Plants To Your Tank

Before installing the plants you have selected, you should make sure they are in pristine condition for the best health of the aquarium. This can be easily done by pruning your plants before placing them into the tank. To best prune your plants, you should remove any aging and yellowing leaves with a small pair of scissors or gardening shears. When pruning rooted plants, you can remove any visible soft brown roots as well as trimming any white roots that show up on the plant. If installing stem plants, you can make a fresh cut in the stem before planting.

Once your plants have been properly pruned, you can then go about setting them inside the tank. This is best done with a half filled tank for greater ease and efficiency. Make a small hole for the plant you are working with and then insert the plant into the hole while placing gravel over the roots as any exposed roots may be attacked by fur algae. The new plants may take some time to get settled and properly rooted so try to avoid moving them unless absolutely necessary as it takes a while for a plant to recover from a move. Your newly placed plants will need a very specific environment to ensure their optimal development. Algae can easily overtake a newly planted tank if there are elements within the environment which are out of balance. Any lights should be placed on a timer with a rotating daily cycle of eight to ten hours. The lights should be reduced if any excess of algae begins to form. Once this environment has been properly established, a lighting cycle of ever ten to twelve hours per day will suffice.

You may have a selection of fish that you will like to introduce to your tank right away, however this may not be best. The ideal starter fish for a new tank are those that can eat algae immediately as it shows up such as mollies, flying foxes, and certain types of catfish. More fish can be added at a later date; however special attention should be paid to the amount of fish in relation to plants to ensure the highest water quality possible.

Regular upkeep of your plants will also guarantee that your fish remain as healthy as possible. To maintain the health of your plants, you should prune them regularly making sure to remove any old and damaged leaves. In the case of floating plants or stem plants, these should be thinned out to avoid any overcrowding that may occur in the tank. Overcrowding from stem and floater plants can cause a diminished light stream which would negatively affect the aquarium’s environment. Pruning stem plants will also result in doubling at the point of each node which will cause thicker, lusher plants to grow in. Pruning can be done on an as needed basis by performing a perfunctory check of the state of your aquarium plants on a regular basis.

Aquarium plants will add a breath of fresh air to your tank, literally. Not only will they enhance the visual appearance of your fish’s environment but they will also aid in maintaining the health of your fish and limiting the overgrowth of algae in your tank. Aquarium plants are an essential element of any aquarium tank. By selecting the best plants for your tank, providing adequate lighting, and maintaining your plant’s health through regular pruning, your aquarium planting success is virtually guaranteed.

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Understanding Planting For Beginner

There comes a time in the life of every landscape, when the existing plantings are old, overgrown and have lost their curb appeal and a change is necessary, not only for the health of the landscape, but also to reinvigorate the caretaker whose passion has faded right along with their plantings.

This is an exciting time, as removing the old eyesores brings a refreshing change to the landscape but this process also imparts a great deal of stress on the homeowner, as they’re now responsible for choosing the suitable replacements and, with the hundreds of varieties available, the final decisions can be overwhelming.

If you’re thinking of adding new plantings or totally updating your landscape, don’t make a 10 year mistake by rushing the process and choosing the first plant that catches your eye. Dig in to your surroundings and focus on what makes a plant happy and you’ll find that the answers to your success are right outside your front door.

Get to know your property


All plants have specific needs for sun, shade, soil etc. that must be met in order to achieve success in any landscape. Your first goal is to reacquaint yourself with your planting beds and understand the conditions that occur there on a daily basis.

Do you know if the sun shines on your plants during the day and more importantly, at what time of the day would it be there? For example, areas that get morning sun but afternoon shade are an excellent place for shade tolerant plants like Hosta or Hydrangea Macrophylla as morning sun is a cooler sun and will not harm the tender leaves of shade tolerant plants.

On the other hand, areas in full sun or, morning shade and afternoon sun, must only contain plants that can withstand extreme heat and dry conditions because this sun is hot, and will damage plants that are not suited for these temperatures.

Knowing the conditions that affect different areas of your landscape, allows you to eliminate plantings that will not be successful and save yourself a lot of disappointment and headaches in the future.

Clay is for moulding not your soil

Next we want to dig into the soil where your new plants will live. It’s important not to overlook this step, as your soil is a major factor in your plants future health, good or bad.

Take a shovel of soil from various areas in your planting beds, about 6 inches down, and lightly toss it on the surface. If it stays together in a clump, it probably has a high clay content which is not good, but if it falls apart and is loose, it’s probably mostly sand or a descent organic mix, which is is a better start for your new plants

If your soil contains a lot clay, the reality is, it can sustain life as is, but you’ll spend a lot of time checking on and babysitting your new plants and you’ll probably read the signs the plant is showing you, wrong.

In the spring and fall when Mother Nature makes moisture more available, clay soil drains very slow, so it stays wet longer, reducing oxygen to the roots and binding or locking up fertilizer and other nutrients, inhibiting their use by the plant. The lack of nutrients turns the leaves a sickly yellow color and the lack of oxygen causes the leaves to wilt, giving the appearance that the plant needs water.

What do most of us do when we see a new plant with wilting leaves, we give it water. As you can now see, wilting leaves is also a symptom of too much water in clay and adding more is the wrong thing to do.

In the summer, the high temperatures and dry conditions turn the clay into a rock hard mass which sheds water away and also slows root growth as they cannot penetrate the hard ground. A lack of water will also cause the leaves to wilt but how long do you water to properly saturate the clay soil when most of it is running off and also, when is the proper time to water again to make sure the roots do not continue to sit in water.

It’s awesome, we see Deer everyday

Another very important thing to consider before choosing your plantings, is where you live. If you often see Deer in your neighborhood and your yard is not fenced, this adds another obstacle to your design and severely limits the plants available to you.

Deer will cause major damage to an incredible variety of plants as they wander and forage on anything available. Most of their feeding is done at night, when dogs and people are asleep, so you’ll never see or hear them, but your plants will pay the price. If you see Deer wandering your neighborhood, limit your plant choices to Deer resistant only, you truly have no other option.

Where are your roof downspouts

It’s always a good practice to be aware of where your roof downspouts empty as a tremendous amount of water come out of them during every storm and can affect your landscape in bad ways.

First, any plants close to or directly in front of the downspout will be subject to extremely wet conditions which will cause future problems and possible elimination of the wrong plant. Soil that stays wet, as discussed before, also causes problems with most plants and usually has a bad ending for many.

Water will also erode mulch and soil from plant roots and expose them to the high temps. of summer and also cause a consistent mess in your grass.

If possible, bury your downspouts underground and have them daylight in the grass where the added water is always welcome.

Do you have large trees

If you have large trees on your property and their root zone is part of your planting space, meaning you will or have planted shrubs below them, pay special attention to this area if you are going to install plants.

The root systems in this scenario will quickly steal most of the water and fertilizer added and leave the new plants struggling and wanting for more. You will need to supplement water after installation and also monitor this area thru the years as rain will struggle to penetrate the tree canopy once the leaves fully open.

Plants, plants and more plants

Now its time to start choosing your plants and the sheer varieties available will surely be overwhelming, but the leg work you’ve already done above, allows you to eliminate ones you now know will not work in your unique landscape.

Take your time, look thru books and read about the plants you like. Get hands on, by going to a local nursery to browse and ask questions and also drive your neighborhood and look for plants you find attractive.

Seeing plants in an actual landscape, gives you first hand knowledge of their true size and assists in choosing the right shrub for crucial areas like your foundation, next to a doorway or along walkway, where space is usually limited . The wrong plant here will greatly increase future maintenance and also ruin the natural beauty of the shrub from the constant pruning.

Now its time to think about your design


When your thinkingof adding new plants, layering means arranging taller plants in the back and shorter plants in the front so you can view every plant from the front. Its that simple.

Do not over plant to get instant effect

Too many times, I see new installations where plants are initially crammed together to achieve the instant effect of a mature landscape. Not only will this increase your initial costs by 30%-40% because of the extra plants, you’ ll increase your maintenance as the plants will quickly grow together and will need to be pruned a lot.

Allow room for natural growth

Always allow sufficient space between each plant at installation so it can slowly mature to full size naturally, overtime. Plants grow together slowly, keeping maintenance limited to light tipping which produces a beautiful, natural plant.

Use Smaller Plants

When installing your new landscape, it’s better to use smaller plants, available in the one, three and five gallon plastic pots, instead of the larger, more mature, balled and burlapped plantings.

The root system in a smaller plant is equal to and comparable to the size of the top growth or the above ground plant. This root system will easily support fast, healthy top growth as the plant matures to its full size..

Larger plants, however, are dug up and transplanted every spring, from where they’d been growing since they were a twig and half of their root system is left back in the field. Instead of getting bigger yearly as they’d done before being transplanted, all their energy in the next 2-3 years is now put back into rebuilding the root system simply to sustain life.

Smaller plants will increase in size much faster than their larger counterparts and usually surpass them and grow a healthier life.

Installing plants

Shrubs and perennials in plastic pots

Since its better to start your landscape with smaller plants, many of the shrubs and perennials you’ll use will be in plastic pots. As these plants have matured overtime, many have been in the same pot for an extended period which can sometimes make it difficult to remove the root ball from the pot.

If the pot does not come off right away by grabbing the lip, inverting and shaking downwards, lay the pot on the ground sideways and push down on the sides as you roll back and forth. This will loosen the grip and free the plant.

Once the root ball is out, use pruners or a razor knife to cut through the roots, about inch deep, from the top to the bottom. Do this on 3 sides and also loosen the roots on the bottom. This process forces new roots to grow out away from the existing circular root mass into the surrounding soil.

How deep should I plant the root ball

The proper way to install any plant or tree is to always keep the top 1/4″ to 1″ of the root ball, above the soil line. The top of the root ball should never be below the soil line but to be safe, 1/4″ should always be above the ground for smaller perennials and shrubs and 1″ for larger plants and trees.

When digging a hole to install a plant or tree, estimate the width by eyeing the size and start digging 2-6 inches wider than estimated. It’s not necessary to dig the hole 2-3 times larger because you want the shrub to acclimate to the surrounding soil and loosening and amending too much right around the root ball makes the new roots remain in the amended soil and not spread out into the surrounding soil which is more than likely, of poorer quality.

Continue digging until you feel the width and depth is close to the size needed. Before you put the plant into the hole, check the depth by inverting the shovel handle and use it as a measuring tool. Stand it vertically in the hole, handle down, and measure depth. Compare to the root ball and adjust as necessary, digging deeper or adding soil back in until satisfied.

Failing to check the final depth is not a big deal until you’re installing a big tree, with a 300-400 hundred pound root ball, and you realize the holes too deep, after you’ve already dropped the plant in.

Plants that are balled n burl aped

Follow the process above for digging and checking depth, and when your good to go, place the plant in the hole with the burlap and string still attached. Backfill the sides, straightening the trunk or shrub as you compact around the edges, leaving the top four inches of the root ball exposed.

Now that the plants is straight and stable, you can begin the process of removing the burlap and string. First, use a razor knife or scissors to remove the twine or string that is around the base of the trunk and make sure you get it all. Now peel the burlap back away from the trunk, being careful as you remove the nails that hold the it together. They are rusty so wear gloves.

Larger trees and shrubs may have a wire cage over the burlap helping to hold the root ball together and you can just bend the top sections to the sides. Cut the burlap off the top, level with the surface, and leave the rest to slowly deteriorate. Backfill the rest of the way, compacting and making sure the trunk is straight and the entire root ball is covered.

Leaving a saucer indentation in the soil around the top of the root ball provides an area for water to fill up and stay as it slowly seeps down to wet the root ball.

Planting in amended soil

The digging is smooth and easy with the loose, nutritious soil making an attractive place for a plant to set up a home or plant its roots.

Planting in an un-amended soil .

The digging is difficult with the sticky, heavy soil slowing down the process. The soil is poor and the plants future will be tough. Just a heads up, most plants will survive when planted in soils are not amended. You can pretty much dig a hole in your existing soil right now, stick a plant in and most will survive . *** As long as the soil does not stay wet for long periods of time, most plants will survive. Will you have to babysit it, will the leaves be off color, will it grow at a normal rate? I don’t know, it all depends on what’s in your soil now and how good your plant knowledge is. Don’t take the chance, amend your soil.

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