Tips for Successful Summer Plantings

As a seasoned gardener, I’ve dug in many a pot over the past 25 years. Below are some tips and tricks for digging goodies gathered during summer shopping sprees at fine nurseries, like Faddegon’s!

The night before the ‘big dig’, water the pots well. If a plant is root-bound, roll up your sleeves and break it free. A root-bound plant has densely matted roots, including ones that coil and even push through the pot’s drainage holes. This makes it difficult for a plant to absorb nutrients and it also inhibits new roots from spreading into fresh, surrounding soil. The plant is ‘strangling’ itself. Drastic evacuation methods are required.

  • First rough up the outer surface of the tight root mass with your hands or a knife
  • Uncoil any swirling roots and cut off those that dangle beneath the root ball
  • Cut a ‘X’ into the bottom of the root mass, to a core depth of ~ ¼ to 1/3 the height of the root ball
  • Gently pry apart sections to encourage fresh soil to work its way into the center of the mass
  • Dig a hole large enough so that you are not cramming roots into it. Amend the removed soil with compost or manure.
  • Set the plant into the prepared hole, spread the roots out evenly and give them a splash of liquid fertilizer like Neptune’s Harvest Fish and Seaweed solution, backfill with amended soil. Make sure the plant’s crown, where the stems meet the roots, is level with the soil. Not too deep, not too high, but just right.
  • Water the plant every day or two (if there is no rain) for the first two weeks as it is adjusting to its new home. Then slowly pull the ‘hose’ away and water two to three times a week.
  • If the plant looks stressed after a few days, cut off the flowers (if there are any). Hopefully this will help it recover more quickly. If it is still ‘throwing a tantrum’, then remove about ½ of the foliage. Now more energy will be directed to the recovering roots, which will eventually support more top growth. Be patient…