General Planting Guidelines: Bedding Plants, Ground Cover & Perennials

1. Most often bedding plants, ground covers and perennials are purchased in 2′, 4′, 6′, quart and 1 gallon containers. These smaller starter plants may be planted exactly as trees and shrubs where each pocket is prepared individually, especially with 6′ and I gallon plants. However the bed preparation for the overall site or flowerbed is critical for plant success.

2. Till or loosen your &oil with shovel, fork or roto-tiller to a depth of8′- 12″ at least. Place on top of the loosened soil 3′ of Nicholson-Hardie compost and mix or till into the soil along with a good bed preparation fertilizer. Depending on what you may plant, there are several very good fertilizers for beds: use Carl Pool 13-13-13, Cad Pool Colorscapes 19-13-6, Fertilome Gardener’s Special 11-15-11 or Nature Safe Multipurpose 10-3-3 (organic). Follow package instructions for amounts applied per 100 sq. ft. During the tilling process large soil clods should be broken and rocks removed. Previously prepared beds from the prior season may need only l’ to 2″ of compost added but always renew nutrients with one of the above fertilizers.

3. It is wise to arrange the plants in your bed ahead of planting. This will help maintain even spacing within rows and alternating spacing between rows. Also you will see ff there are enough plants on hand and whether the plant and color arrangement is pleasing to you. It is a good preview of the design before installation.

4. Once satisfied with plant placement begin planting. Dig a hole slightly larger than the plant’s container. Carefully remove plant from pot. Never pull too hard at base (crown) of plant; remember too much pressure at crown may cause damage or breakage. Slightly loosen roots from the outer edge of the root ball. If roots are tightly bound in a wrapping motion, out into and through roots on each side slightly to Y2″ where the wrapping begins. Plant at same soil level as in pot. If plant root ball is too high above soil it will dry out quickly. If too low and much of the crown or stem is buried a crown or root rot may result. Tomatoes and ornamental cabbages and kales are exceptions to this rule.

5. Water plants thoroughly by hand with a quality water breaker or water wand attached to a hose. Too much water pressure will uncover roots. May through October, water by hand every day thoroughly for the first 2 to 3 weeks while maintaining your same automatic sprinkler system settings. Taper to twice weekly thereafter or once a week in the winter until plant has rooted out. For November through April, hand watering twice a week initially may be enough. Remember plant and soil requirements vary, so water needs and application may need adjusting. In general, plants planted in shade do not need nor can they tolerate as much water as plants planted in the sun. Much more watering by hand is needed for new plants in the warm and hot months compared to the cool months.

6. Mulching a flower bed will help to maintain moisture, moderate soil temperature, prevent weed seeds from germinating and add more organic matter over time. For annual beds use shredded pine bark mulch and for more permanent beds use shredded hardwood mulch. Apply mulch 3/4″to l/2″ above soil level. Later fertilizer applications may be broadcast over mulch: it will permeate into soil.