If what I'm about to teach you doesn't make sense, or you need some clarification, please call or email the GardenLine radio show this weekend. Or, better yet, talk with me in person 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at Maas Nursery, 5511 Toddville Road, Seabrook.
There are two reasons I'm re-issuing a planting technique I've shared in my books and email tips. First, I don't think I've ever discussed planting annuals and perennials in the springtime! It seems I've always done it in the fall. Secondly, I have been prompted to do it because of something that happened during my appearance at the Kingwood Garden Center last weekend. As I was explaining my planting routine to a lady, two other people started hovering over her shoulder to listen in. It was like everyone wanted in on "the secret." But, since they had nothing to write on, I asked them to send me an email asking for "the technique." I've not seen any such emails, but I feel they still need the information, so I'm including it in this week's blog. And since the upcoming weeks offer prime gardening opportunities, this is a great time for a refresher course for everyone.
So, here's "Randy Lemmon's Sure-fire Planting Technique to Insure All Annuals and Perennials (and some small shrubs) Will Succeed!"
I've officially used this regimen for close to 17 years, and it has never failed me. In fact, I did it for the entire day Tuesday ... just ask anyone at Arbor Gate. The plan insures good soil for delicate roots, an organically-rich environment to encourage even more roots, and includes a controlled-release blooming-plant food that should last for at least three months.
This is how it works:
First, in a raised bed, push aside as much mulch as possible in the area where you intend to replant an annual. This works for transplants from four-inch, six-inch, and up to one-gallon pots. Mix in a couple inches of fresh rose soil. Take the annual out of its pot and dip the root ball into a solution of Medina Hasta Gro liquid plant food. (I have also, from time to time, added a capful of the vitamin/hormone supplement Super Thrive to the five-gallon bucket I use for the transplant solution - this is totally optional.)
Then, insert the plant delicately into the new rose soil-amended area, spreading out the wet root system. Before you push the mulch back into place, or add new mulch, side-dress the area with a little slow-release blooming-plant food. Most nurseries and garden centers have several varieties - just ask. There are several organic blooming-plant foods, but they don't last for up to three months. This weekend, however, I will be giving away samples of Microlife's Max Blooms, one of the most reputable blooming-plant foods for pre- and post-planting purposes. By the way, anything from Nelson Color Star, Carl Pool's Colorscapes, or Fertilome's Start 'N Grow will work for the slow-release. And Soil Mender's Yum Yum Mix is a great one on the organic side of the aisle.
Finally, the mulch goes back into place.
As long as your color pockets stay consistently watered during the first two weeks, you will have great results through June ... quite possibly for the rest of the year, especially if they are perennials rather than seasonal color. Annuals usually fall into that category. If your perennials make it past June — and they're supposed to — be prepared to use another hit of the slow-release blooming plant foods.
Some important things to remember:
- Don't use anything considered "potting soil" in outdoor beds. If you want to use this technique with potting soil, keep the plants in pots.
- If you have to re-do an entire bed with fresh rose soil, as opposed to just making amendments for color pockets, allow the bed to rest for at least two weeks before planting anything. Consider saturating any newly made beds with soil activator weekly for three weeks, to help mellow the soil and protect delicate roots from a "hot reaction."
- On an existing bed, try to incorporate one bag of rose soil per flat of annuals.
- If you don't use my transplant solution above, please don't use anything considered a "root stimulator" unless it is 100 percent organic.
Every product mentioned above, plus all the color you can imagine for using this planting technique, will be available at Maas this Saturday! Just ask any of their staff for Medina Hasta Gro (or any liquid organic root stimulator you like) along with bags of Rose Soil. Or, get landscaper or garden bed mixes and you can go wrong. Finally, ask for a slow-release or organic blooming-plant food, and go to town with my technique.
The headline says "rain or shine" because even if there is a little rain, it won't affect this event. The area where classes are held at Maas Nursery is kind of an au naturel amphitheater with trees as the roof, and they can diffuse a light rain. Plus, we need rain occasionally, and we should consider it a gift from Mother Nature, right?! I don't think we should say anything cross about her these days — remember her March 4 Ninja freeze and ice storm? Let's accept the fine gifts she gives us this spring without any bad-mouthing and not use a little rain as an excuse to stay home. Hopefully, that will convince her to skip anything related to a drought later this summer.
MicroLife products will be our Saturday giveaway sponsor, and you can use many of their products as a pre-planting and slow-release plant food for the procedures above. I'll show you which ones. Plus, we'll give away lots of KTRH goodies and a variety of freebies from our prize closet.