Tag Archive | Transplanting

Transplanting Daffodils

4eb015c098194a88800061c2c8073efd--flower-gardening-organic-gardeningMoving to a new location? Or, maybe your daffodils have spread beyond the intended space? Or, maybe you want to share with others? The ideal time to dig up daffodils is about eight weeks after flowering, when the foliage has just started to yellow — and while you’re at it, you might as well divide the large-flowered ones. Small-flowered types can be left alone indefinitely, but most large-flowered daffodils must be divided every three to five years or you’ll end up with nothing but leaves.

Dig the new planting holes before you start, figuring that each old clump is probably getting overcrowded, should be divided, and so will need about three or four times as much space in the new location(s). Have extra soil and sod ready to fill in the old holes. Choose an overcast day, or work in the evening. Using a digging fork, putting it deep into the soil, cut a line around the clump about 2 inches from its outside edge. Keep working your way around, loosening the lifting, following the line you cut, until the whole clump is free. Lever it out, gently break it apart, and then work the sod away from the stems and set it aside for lawn repair.

Separate the bulbs, letting them fall naturally into smaller clumps that still have dirt 100_5200attached. Don’t tear the roots — you can hose off the roots, disentangle them, and do a more thorough job of dividing. Plant in the prepared holes, and water well.

Save the fertilizer for the fall. By the time daffodils (genus Narcissus) bloom, their leaves are almost finished transferring the carbohydrates they’ve made into the bulb for storage. As the chlorophyll breaks down and the leaves turn yellow, the plants need only sunlight, air, and water to finish up.

If you need to fertilize daffodils, do it in early spring just as new growth pops up, or in the fall when roots are growing and daughter bulbs are being formed. Use a balanced fertilizer or well-rotted compost to maintain nutrition in situations where the bulbs are crowded or are permitted to set seed, which takes a lot of energy.

Many gardeners also hedge their bets by mixing a bulb booster into the bottom of the hole when planting bulbs, because it is high in phosphorus, which does not move much in the soil. Phosphorus encourages root growth, the first order of business for a newly planted bulb.

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Dividing Hostas

by OCMGA Master Gardener Holly Boettcher

HostaThe million-dollar question for serious gardeners is whether it is better to divide your hosta plants in late fall or the early spring. At our vineyard, we have massive perennial gardens which are home to hundreds of hostas. When you see me staring off into space while relaxing in one of the many sitting areas on our property, what I am really doing, is contemplating which hosta need to be divided, and where the gardens will expand into the next season.

From past experience, I have learned it is easier to “wrestle” the plant in early spring, when those tender buds are swelling through the warm spring earth. If I divide at this time, I don’t feel as though I am committing an act of violence against them. BUT, early in the spring, it is difficult to remember what that hosta looked like. You see, I am one of those gardeners who obsess over planting hostas so their colors, variegations, and shapes, will both contrast and compliment those around them.

For that reason, I am with the divide in the fall group! Yes, you will most certainly damage some leaves, and it may seem as though the plant suffered a setback, but in the next season they will “spring back” to put you in awe of the project which you completed.

Here is what you will need to get started:

  • A wheelbarrow, shovel, cutting tool, some organic matter, and water. Start out by assessing which plants need to be divided, then decide where you will plant them. Keep in mind that hosta leaves will scorch in full sun, so be sure to select an area that gets only a few hours of morning sun.
  • Next, dig around and below the hosta being careful not to damage too much of the root system. Lift the entire plant out of the ground and don’t be shy about asking for help if it is too heavy. With a garden hose, rinse as much of the soil from the root system.
  • Now is the time to get tuff. You can take your shovel or cutting tool, and slice all the way through the roots, and divide the plant into one or more sections. If the roots are not too tangled, it is best to pull the sections apart by working with your hands.
  • Next, add the organic matter or compost in the hole and replant one of the sections where you just dug it up. Place the other sections in your wheelbarrow and take to the area you will plant. Dig holes at least twice the size of your root system. Again, add organic matter or compost to the hole, and fill in around the plant.
  • Be sure to water all generously and regularly.Hosta33Another tip when planting is to either plant a “specimen” or in groups of 3 or 5 for an attractive look. If you have room, consider adding some companion plants such as Astilbe, Baptisia, Bleeding heart, Dianthus, or Pulmonaria (lungwort.)Above all, be patient. The hosta may not look very attractive at this time, but after it has had a long winters nap it will emerge in the spring looking as beautiful as ever!

Plant Peonies in Fall for Spring Beauty

by OCMGA Master Gardener Tammy Borden

DSC_0235Peonies are harbingers of spring. Their vast array of colors, shapes, and sizes are among the many reasons they are treasured by gardeners. Add the incredible fragrance of many varieties and you’ve won me over.

Fall is the ideal time to plant or transplant peonies. According to Nate Bremer, owner and grower at Solaris Farms in Reedsville, WI, peonies make almost all of their root growth in the fall of year, even after frosts and leaves have fallen off the trees.

“The plants themselves may look dead above the ground,” said Nate, “but the roots are busy growing and expanding their territory.” He says that planting in the fall allows the new plantings to grow roots for the coming year. If peonies are planted in the spring, they must depend upon roots that were grown the previous year to support them through the summer season, which often causes them to use up their stores of energy and ultimately weakens them.

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Peony ‘Roselette’

Nate should know. His business specializes in peonies. I personally visited his garden center of field-raised stock in spring of last year and was wowed by an early blooming variety called ‘Roselette.’ Its crisp, coral-pink, bowl-shaped blooms were 7” across and caught my eye from 75 yards away. I had to have one. Imagine my disappointment when Nate told me I couldn’t pick it up for another six months! For an instant gratification gardener, it was almost more than I could bare. But I patiently waited until October when I could finally claim my purchase. And I was rewarded this spring with some of the most amazing blooms I’d ever seen, pictured here.

“Peonies may look like they are doing very little during the hot days of summer, but they are busy storing food for the next year,” said Nate. “In autumn many of them produce leaves of gold, orange and red, adding to their value as a three season plant.”

Be sure to cut down herbaceous peonies and remove the stems and foliage in fall. Peonies are susceptible to a fungal disease called botrytis. You may have seen this on your plants. It shows up as black areas on stems and leaves during damp or wet weather. Removing the plant material helps minimize this disease the following growing season.

Nate also shared how nurseries that sell containerized peonies usually plant them in their pots during the fall season or during late winter weather and the peonies do their rooting then. When the containerized peonies are purchased and planted during the spring season the plants have completed their rooting for the year and are susceptible to many problems like drought, soggy soils, disease and heat.

If you’ve considered transplanting peonies, fall is the ideal time for that as well. Rather than transplanting a large clump, Nate recommends dividing larger clumps into 3-5 eyes. Larger clumps generally do not transplant as well. In either event, do it now and don’t be temped to wait until spring. Chances are you will be disappointed.

Thanks to Nate Bremer for sharing his expertise. For information on his unique garden center, which also specializes in Lilium and Day Lilies, visit his website at www.solarisfarms.com. Many more growing tips on peonies can be found there as well.

 

When to Plant Trees

tree-planting-guide-diagramFor most trees, fall is the best time to plant. The soil is warm but not waterlogged the way it can be in spring, and trees without leaves make fewer demands on their roots to provide nutrients.

A few trees, however, including magnolia, birch, hawthorn, black gum, tulip tree, and most oaks, get downright cranky when planted in the fall. No one knows for sure, but researchers think that there is something that prevents the root structure from taking up enough water to overcome transplant shock, and that winter comes before the tree is ready for it.

Studies by Dr. Nina Bassuk at the Cornell University Urban Horticulture Institute in Ithaca, New York, show that transplanting these trees when they are smaller increases the success rate for fall planting. She has had much better results with trees that measure less than 2 inches in diameter at a point 6 inches above where the trunk emerges from the roots than she has had with larger trees. Be sure to water that new tree in well. Whether it has leaves or not, it needs water.

Watering also settles the soil and helps eliminate any air pockets. Dormant trees planted in October or early November should need only that one deep, soothing watering to last them the winter. But all that said, it is still better to plant magnolias in spring.

Like other things in life that aren’t what they used to be, burlap has changed. Whether for the better depends on your point of view. A single layer of plain old untreated burlap, now almost a thing of the past, rots away nicely and lets roots wander freely out of their soil ball. But you are just as likely to run into a plastic burlap-like material, or into burlap that has been treated with a rot-resistant chemical.

Both are popular in the horticultural industry for the same reason: they stay intact longer, through sunshine and waterings, as the tree makes its way from its growing site to you. But that perseverance presents problems for growing roots trying to find their way into new surroundings. Rot-resistant burlap takes years longer to decay than untreated does, and even untreated burlap presents a formidable boundary if wadded down in layers and left in place.

In both cases, these barriers restrict the diameter of the roots as they grow out. In some cases, the tree may even die. At that point, you can dig it up and use the original wrapping to take the dead tree to the dump.

To avoid such problems, after placing the tree in that nice extra-wide-but-no-deeper-than-the-ball hole, untie the twine around the trunk and cut away the burlap.

Note: some ideas are harder to kill than crabgrass. One of them is that when a tree is dug up to be sold, the branches should be removed to compensate for the loss of roots. The rationale is to balance root loss with the removal of an equal amount of top growth. The tree is then thought to be better balanced and better able to withstand transplant shock.

As logical as this sounds at first, it just doesn’t hold up. The human equivalent might be removing the right arm of someone who has just lost her left leg in an accident.

Transplanted trees need all the food they can produce to support the regrowth of those lost roots. The food comes from leaves doing their thing, so the more leaves, the better. The only branches that should be pruned are those that are dead, diseased, damaged, or rubbing against other branches.

Keep your Dahlias

dahlia-173799_960_720Dahlias will not winter over in places where the ground freezes, but they are easy to store if you have a cool place to keep them. Start by making labels while the plants are still blooming, so you remember which color is which. Wait until frost kills the top growth, then as soon as there is a dry day, cut off the dead foliage leaving stubs 2 inches long. Use a digging fork to lift the tubers; turn the clumps upside down.

Let the tubers dry a few hours, then gently remove as much soil as possible. Don’t wash them off, as the last thin layer of clinging soil will help protect them from shriveling. Line a large box with a plastic bag; then add a 4-inch layer of coconut fiber, dry shredded leaves, styrofoam packing peanuts, or sawdust. Place tubers stem side up on this bed, keeping them well separated. Nestle the labels into the clumps.

Completely surround the tubers with additional packing material, and loosely close the bag. Store in a dark place, ideally at 35º to 45ºF. When storage temperatures climb to the mid 50s, the tubers will start sprouting. Ignore short sprouts; they’ll be buried when you plant. Clumps that come from storage with long, pale stems, however, should be hardened off before being set out into the garden.

Dahlia tubers

Dahlia tubers

In the spring, as long as there are a couple of healthy-looking eyes (the buds from which the plants grow, located up near the old stem), even rather shriveled tubers will make decent-size plants. If shoots have started to grow, evaluate them before planting. If they are still small (less that 2 inches long), just bury the tubers as you would normally, a couple of inches below the soil.

If the shoots are long and pale, they will be too far along to bury completely; they’ll also be brittle and vulnerable to sunscald, so handle carefully. Toughen up the shoots by putting the tubers with their new growth in the shade for a week or so before planting. Plant the tubers at the normal depth, with the long shoots above ground, and continue to protect the shoots with a light sprinkling of straw for the next week or 10 days. The idea is simply to shade the bleached growth until it turns green, so don’t smother it with a heavy layer of mulch.

Transplanting Peonies

Autumn is the best time to plant peonies, whether they are newly purchased or simply being moved. You can start whenever the weather cools but should stop at least six weeks before the expected date of frozen ground. (Newly planted peonies won’t mind early fall’s icy mornings because the soil below the surface is still warm, but they must have plenty of time to make new roots before growth sops for the winter.)

Start by choosing a location where they can grow undisturbed for the foreseeable future. Peonies are long-haul plants, not at their best until they have been in place for some years.

Test the soil in the planting spot to be sure it has a pH of at least 6, although 6.5 to 7 is better; amend it with dolomitic limestone if necessary. If you’re moving the plant, cut off the discard the spent foliage. Dig up and handle the roots carefully as they are quite brittle.

Peony_zpsce6b6354Dig planting holes roughly twice as deep and wide as the peony roots. Prepare the soil by working in a few shovelsful of compost. Set the roots in the prepared holes, making sure the budlike eyes are no more than 2 inches below the ground. Backfill gently; don’t tamp down around the plants. Water them in, then top off with additional soil if necessary.

After the ground is frozen 3 or 4 inches down, add a protective blanket of straw, shredded leaves, or bark mulch. Do not fertilize until spring, when a generous application of compost will be welcome.

Note: there is an old wive’s tale that says you shouldn’t cut more than a third of your peony blooms or you’ll have fewer flowers the next year. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Plants get nourishment through roots and leaves and use it to make flowers and fruit. The flowers are takers, not givers, as far as the plants resources are concerned, and you could cut every one without hurting the plant at all. In fact, when flowers are removed, perennials can use the strength that would have gone into making seeds to do things like fight disease, put out replacement foliage, and build up their underground resources. 

The one-third business probably got started because peonies have short stems. When you cut them for the vase, you usually take a lot of the foliage, too, and a plant does need its leaves to stay healthy. So, leave the leaves, take the flowers, and don’t forget the “get rid of it” rule: even healthy-looking peonies usually harbor fungus spores that should not stay nearby or be composted. Send all peony flowers to the landfill, bury them a foot deep, or burn them.

peony-bud-111910_960_720And one more thing: don’t attempt to eliminate the ants that crawl all over your peonies!! Peonies have tiny nectaries, specialized tissues that secrete nectar, at the edge of their bud scales (delicate leaf-like structures covering the bud). The nectar is a highly nutritious blend of sugars, proteins, and amino acids and it attracts the ants to the flower buds. In exchange for the nectar, the ants provide protection for the buds. Any bud-eating pest is attacked by the ant who make formidable foes since some of them can bite from one end and sting or spray from the other end. Don’t spray the ants with poisons or water — the peonies know what they need better than you do!

Expert’s Tip: Growing Sweet Potatoes in Wisconsin

Joe Muellenberg, Dane County UW-Extension Horticulture Educator

sweet-potato-nutritional-fact-versus-regular-potatoThe sweet potato (Ipomea batata) is a delicious, nutritious, and high-yielding vegetable crop. Prepared as pies, fries, or in African stew, this “super food” is high in fiber, vitamins A and C, and low in fat. Some varieties are grown ornamentally in containers or  hanging planters and produce smaller roots not used for consumption.  Not be confused with the yam, the sweet potato is orange in color and native to the Latin American region. The true yam (Dioscorea sp.) is unrelated genetically, less nutritious, white or yellow in color, and native to the Asian and African regions.

Sweet potatoes are propagated vegetatively rather than by seed. Old potato seed is used to grow slips, or transplants. Slips can be purchased, but it may be more economical to sprout your own slips. Do not plant until early June until all risk of even light frost has passed. Remember that the slips are very fragile because they rely on establishing new root systems rather than obtaining nutrients directly from the tuber like the standard potato.  Do not store slips in water before planting. The photo to right shows slips that have prematurely sprouted roots and are weakened having spent precious energy before being planted.  Keep the slips in a warm, dry space for no more than 5-7 days before planting. Each node will sprout a sweet potato. Remove leaves from the nodes except for 1-2 at the upper-most growth point (meristem).  Be sure to plant the slip vertically in the ground with all leafless nodes buried. Remember that each node will sprout a sweet potato so planting less nodes will yield larger, less numerous sweet potatoes.

It is very important to give your plant the proper spacing.  A member of the morning glory family, the sweet potato will spread for many feet. Slips should be planted at least 12 inches apart with at least 24 inches between rows. If you are planted in raised beds, give each plant at least 4 square feet.  More space is optimal.  If your space is limited, consider vertically trellising the vines. Your slips will wilt from transplant shock.  Water for several  days after planting and they will recuperate as the roots establish. After initial planting, sweet potatoes will need 2 inches of water weekly, twice the average vegetable plant. Proper mulching with improve water retention, keep competing weeds down, and increase soil temperature. Thickly spread marsh hay or grass-clipping or use black plastic sheet mulch (biodegradable is best).

Mississippi’s 2012 sweet potato crop should be slightly above average. These Beauregard sweet potatoes grew at White and Allen Farms in Calhoun County. (Photo by Mississippi Sweet Potato Council/Benny Graves)

Mississippi’s 2012 sweet potato crop should be slightly above average. These Beauregard sweet potatoes grew at White and Allen Farms in Calhoun County. (Photo by Mississippi Sweet Potato Council/Benny Graves)

To harvest, dig the main crop of sweet potatoes before or directly after the first “hard” night frost (below 32 degrees) in the fall. Most varieties need 90-100 days to grow, so most Wisconsin grower leave the roots in the ground to mature until first frosts in October.  To  harvest, remove the top growth by snipping the stem at the base of the plant. Dig 1-2 feet around the sweet potato cluster with care not to damage the roots as you dig. Use a spading fork or stout shovel and be careful not to bruise, cut, or otherwise damage the roots. Dig below the level of the ridge and gradually move closer toward the plants, removing soil until the fat roots are exposed. Sweet potatoes should be handled as little as possible to avoid damage. To clean off stuck-on soil, lightly spray with them water and try to avoid rubbing.

For best quality, use the potatoes as soon as possible after they have been stored. If you are would like store them overwinter, you will need to allow them to cure. Curing them in a warm, humid space (85 degrees; 90 percent humidity) such as a porch or garage. After 1-2 weeks, the starches will convert to sugars and thicken the skin for longer storage and will make the potato sweeter.  Good luck growing!