I want to show you the proper ways of planting annual flowers to ensure success. This research (2014) is the latest technique to ensure long-term success for the roots of annuals (and perennials and trees and shrubs) so when you plant you get the best growth.
I also want to show you the proper way to treat the roots of annuals (and perennials and trees and shrubs) so when you plant you get the best growth.
Modern research is showing us that when a root starts to circle around inside a root ball, it wants to stay circling around.It’s stuck in “circle mode”. So our intent is to get that root to stop circling and move out into the real soil in the garden. This means…
We have to cut the roots
And when we cut, we discover a root acts just like the top growth -a top shoot will branch.If you pinch the leading growth. It branches out – that’s how we get thick, bushy plants.
Same thing with a root. We cut the root and it branches and no longer curves around but heads out into the surrounding soil.
We now have to get rid of much of the soilless mix
This mix is ideal for growing young plants, it promotes container growing but it’s not great for garden growing.
So the deal is simple, we want the roots to get out of this soft cushy environment into the real world (it’s like kicking the kids out of the house to play – or go to school instead of playing computer games or get a job) 🙂
This means not only do we cut the roots we pull away much of that peat-based soil so the roots will branch and find themselves growing in garden soil.
Now the truly critical part
You’ve whacked the roots. They’re growing. But the plant is full growth mode with reduced roots so you have to make sure it doesn’t lack for water. You can’t let it dry right out for the next month! Immediately after planting – “muddify” the ground around the plant.
You want a full swamp there so the muddy dirt gets into the cut up root ball, surrounds every surviving root with wet, inviting soil to grow out into. You want to keep the ground damp for the next 30 days.Put your finger on the ground – if it’s damp, you’re fine.If it’s at all dry, or you’re not sure -soak – and I do mean soak as in “muddify” your garden soil. But don’t keep it “swampy” – damp is good.
Do I add manure, fertilizer, compost or anything to the planting hole?
NO! Do not do this. If you really feel the need to do something, toss some compost around the base of the plant after planting but add absolutely nothing to that planting hole.
The old-guys will tell you to add peat moss or compost or whatever but modern research says not to. OK? After a week, you can start feeding with some organic liquid plant food or compost.
The only thing you put back in the hole – is the soil that came out of it.
Doug’s Summary Notes
I dug up one of the plants after three days in the ground to take a picture showing new root development. Those white roots are all brand new and yes, after only three days.
UPDATE: NOV 2013
There was some research just released showing that the process of ripping the roots of pack annuals (the 4 or 6-packs of annuals in small plastic cells) did not increase the growth and flowering of the plant. While this may have been true in a small plot setting under ideal conditions with small pack annuals, I will not change my practice with the larger pots. I’ve seen the results of this in my own gardens – both leaving them intact and ripping them up and I’ll stay with the ripping up. Ripping up is also a best-practice for trees and shrubs.