How to plant like a pro
Planting like a pro is easy, once you know how to do it. Personally, I plant and guarantee thousands of plants every year, so here are some of professional landscaper’s secrets to getting it right:
Select healthy plants
Well, duh, right? Seriously, beyond looking for obvious signs of disease like webs, spots and dead branches, you need to take the plant out of its pot! Don’t worry, no one at the greenhouse or nursery is going to give you the stinkeye.
You want to see healthy white or light brown roots that are growing straight out towards the pot. You do not want to see roots that are circling or even beginning to circle the pot. Return that plant to its pot and back away slowly.
If you are buying annuals - those little plants with big blooms in the teeny pots, the roots should be white, but can be circling the pot. However, anything in a 1- gallon size pot or larger must not be circling the pot.
Water the plants as soon as you get them home
I suppose you could stop at a gas station and water them on the way, but really, it's not necessary.
Figure out where you want to place them and dig a hole
Not just any hole. A professional hole!
Here's how: Let's pretend you're planting a 1-gallon-sized plant. Place the pot where you want the plant to be, then smack your shovel down on one side of the pot, to mark the spot. Then move the plant out of the way about 2 feet in any direction (except up, of course).
Now, you can remove the first shovel full of dirt. You're going to do this three more times as you work your way around where the phantom pot is. "But I'm digging a square hole", I hear you wail. Not to worry. That round root ball will fit just fine.
The perfect hole will fit your plant like a pair of fat day jeans. You do not want to dig a huge hole and fill it up with plant goodies. Trust me. University research has shown that amending soil around individual plants is a long-term mistake.
Add fertilizer and finish planting
Add a little slow release fertilizer in the bottom of the hole (I personally like Osmocote), then tuck the dirt around the roots (you don't want big air pockets), water well for about one minute, and you're done - congratulations!
Planting this way is terrific for the plants and it saves you lots of time, so sharpen your shovels and get busy!
About this Angie’s List Expert: Beth Jordan is president of A Yard You'll Love in Archer, Fla., which has completed more than $1.5 million dollars’ worth of landscaping for Gainesville, Fla.-area customers since starting business in 2004. She has a BS in Agriculture from the University of Florida, writes articles for Florida Gardening Magazine and believes in Florida Friendly landscaping.
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