It’s not uncommon for folks to visit their garden shops at the first breath of spring, buy a few plants, then wander about the yard looking for some place to put them. That’s not the way to go about it.
Before you purchase your plants choose them with your site conditions in mind. Site conditions include your USDA climate zone, sun exposure, soil moisture, soil texture, soil chemistry (soil pH) and those constraints that limit the types of plants you can grow.
Ideally, you should’ve begun preparing the planting bed before your plants arrived. If you haven’t begun preparations yet, set your plants aside out of the sun, wind, extreme heat or cold. Get started.
Have a soil sample tested. Drop by your nearest Cooperative Extension Office for some soil sample bags. Follow instructions on the bag. Your report should arrive in a few days. Follow instructions in the report. Plant your perennials with other plants having similar cultural requirements.
Prepare the planting bed by cultivating at least 8″ deep, removing all traces of weeds. Compacted soil should be cultivated to 12″ deep. Amend the soil according to the Cooperative Extension Service report.
As a general rule, though, compost may be incorporated into the soil. Incorporate 5-10-15 fertilizer at a rate of no more 2 lbs. per 100 square feet into the top 4″ to. 6″ of soil. Avoid synthetic fertilizers contacting any part of your plants.
Space plants in 3-1/2” pots about 12″ to 18″ apart. Space plants in 2-1/2” pots about 8” to 12” apart. Plant spacing is not an exact science. Sure, you must consider the mature sizes and growth rates of your plants, but spacing is as much a matter of your budget and patience.
Dig planting holes into the cultivated soil a little less deep than the depth of the growing container. Place the plants into the holes and back-fill, watering as you go. Press soil around the root balls. Do not cover entirely the root balls with soil. The tops should be slightly exposed. Add a top-dressing of mulch around the plants, not on top of them, about 1″ deep.
Fertilize sparingly and allow soil to dry slightly between watering. Few plants like to be waterlogged, though there are exceptions – particularly those that thrive in bogs and along water features.
Having done that, periodically remove weeds from the planting bed. Fertilize your plants as required.
What’s next? Enjoy the results of your labor!
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