Every Dollar Matters

Feet of Clay

by Russell Matthews

Planting

Wait a few weeks for your newly amended soil to mature a bit before planting. Set plants in bright, but indirect sunlight.

Plant when soil is moist, but never when it is soggy or adobe dry. Avoid planting between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. during the hot summer months.

Dig the planting whole as deep as the container they grew in and about six to twelve inches wider.

Remove all broken branches and damaged leaves and remove flowers, but not flower buds. You will be rewarded with more blooms, larger blooms and healthy, vigorous plants.

Remove plants from the containers. Observe the root ball. If roots are matted and congested, loosen them with your fingers or slice through them on all sides and across the bottom with a sharp knife without damaging the soild ball.

If plant is balled and burlap, remove plastic and metal wires and roll the top third of the burlap down and away to expose the root ball top. Burlap must be buried or it will wick water from the soil.

Set plants into the hole so that the top of the root ball is 1 to 3" above the top of the amended soil line for 1 gallon and larger containers. Add soils as needed to achieve this result.

Mulch and then water plants deeply, applying 2 to 3" of water over entire area. Deep watering encourages deep roots, resulting in drought tolerant plants.

To determine when you have accumulated enough water, set shallow containers at the farthest left or right reach and center your watering device.

Turn on your water and check your watch. When they have accumulated 2-3", you have applied enough water.

Remember: first year planting require more frequent deep waterings. Check your soils moisture content weekly the first year and deep water accordingly.