Planting Buddy

Where it’s all about plant care.

 

This page was put together by enthusiast plant growers to help you discover the joys of taking care of your little green friend.

 

 

 

 

Annuals | Perennials | Ornamental Grasses

Congratulations on bringing home your new plant.

Or plants! We hope you bond over a love of greenery, fresh air, hydration, and flowers.

We imagine you’re here for some pointers on putting your new plant buddy or buddies in the ground. Cool, we’ll do this together, but you get shovel duties.

Below are four basic steps to planting.

Planting Steps

1. Dig a hole the size of the pot. That’s width and depth.

2. Remove the plant from the pot. To do this, put one hand around the base of the plant and turn the pot on its side. Give the pot a gentle tug from the bottom with your other hand.

3. Place the plant in the hole and plant it at ground level, backfilling in gaps with the previously dug soil.

4. Water thoroughly.

Digging Deeper

Succulents

It seems simple enough. Put plant in ground. Water plant when it’s thirsty. Watch plant, and your smiles, grow wider and taller. Hooray for plant!

When it comes to when and how much to water, however, what would seem like an elementary exercise inevitably turns out to be more involved. But don’t fret. You got this; we know it! A good place to start is to water thoroughly when the soil is completely dry to the touch, and not just at the surface but down by the roots.

 

Procure a water meter or in lieu of that “fancy technology,” stick a bamboo stick or pencil into the ground. Then pull it out. If soil adheres to the stick (yes, just like baking a cake), the soil is wet enough.

Dry succulent

 

Now back to that rule of thumb, because a friend or neighbor or online acquaintance will inevitably swear by a different schedule. The frequency of watering (or infrequency, as it were) is awash in considerations, such as:

  • in the ground or container
  • pot size
  • soil mix
  • exposure
  • temperature
  • humidity
  • recent rain
  • airflow
  • slope or flat grade, or something in between
  • organic mulch or inorganic mulch, or no mulch at all
  • proximity to hardscape or inorganic elements such as boulders or water fountains.

 

Not to mention the plant varieties themselves. Like us humans, they don’t share a uniform metabolism rate. Their native habitats don’t all receive the same amount of precipitation or experience an equivalent temperature range.

Indoor varieties, insulated from the trying effects of direct sun and high temps, can go longer between waterings than their potted outdoor counterparts. Even if it’s been two weeks or more, indoor plants may be perfectly content and not in immediate need of water. Again, take a good look at the leaves. If they are firm and plump to the touch, chances are you can wait.

So, how are you doing? By digging deeper, this whole watering thing may now seem to resemble something complicated rather than simple. Like springing open a can of worms, and we’d rather those worms stay under the soil. As noted earlier, becoming a skilled plant steward starts with being a good observer. With experience, you’ll be able to confidently incorporate all those various factors into a successful plant care plan, with nary a bead of sweat.

You will learn a lot about your succulents and what they want by closely observing them and their responses to weather and watering.

  • Firm, plump leaves indicate a happy plant.
  • Squishy, mushy leaves likely mean it has received too much water. Discoloration might even be noticeable, such as black spots on the leaves or stem. In those cases, something may definitely be rotten in the garden.
Overwatered succulent
  • Shriveled, wrinkled leaves tell you it’s time to fill up the watering can. However, if it’s only the bottom (older) leaves that are thin and shriveled, and the rest look good, then that is completely, totally normal.
  • Whereas succulents rotting from too much H2O may not be salvageable, parched plants should perk back up after one or two good drinks.
dd3_1
Stretched succulent from lack of light
Succulents require several hours of bright light per day to be happy, healthy plants. When they don’t receive enough light, they will begin to stretch, resulting in funky, elongated growth. The leaves will flatten out, which is the plant’s way of exposing more surface area to capture whatever light is available. Should this happen, trim the spoiled section and relocate the plant to a brighter location. But avoid the temptation to immediately stick the plant out in full sun. That will likely result in sunburned leaves. It needs to be a gradual adjustment.

Annuals

Annuals will brighten any landscape, hanging basket or container garden throughout the year.

Perennials have long been considered the backbone of any good garden, but some of the real fun begins with the wide color pallet of the bedding Annuals. Go on, just get crazy and fill in with big splashes of Pansies in the winter and spring or rows and bands of sun yellow, flame red, or powder puff pink Celosia in the summer.

While the perennials are always there, certain times of the year their color may not be. This is where annuals are great for the garden as they fill in those times during perennial resting. Even when the perennials are in bloom, the annuals become the belts, purses, shoes and earrings that accessorize the garden. Banks of Petunias and Marigolds offer great blocks of summer color for the sun with Impatiens of all types bringing a delicate wash of color into the shade gardens all summer long. They don’t need to be flowering annuals either. Annual foliage plants like Amaranthus, Coleus and Dusty Miller pack a big punch in any garden with their distinctive foliage; Dusty Miller even rewards with clusters of bright yellow button-like flowers as well.

Perennials

Perennials are plants that live for many years, typically blooming at a specific time and often continuing sporadically after that throughout the year. Most remain through the winter while some will die back in fall and return in spring.

Perennials are primarily grown for their flowers although some like Artemisia and ferns are grown for the ornamental value of their foliage. Perennials can be grown in borders or beds, along walkways and under or in front of shrubs.

They are ideal companions for spring blooming bulbs, providing a succession of bloom after the bulbs are finished and hiding the bulb foliage as it dies back. Perennials also make a fine background for groups of late spring and summer blooming bulbs like allium and lilies as well as for all of the spring, summer and fall annuals that become available.

There are many types of perennials and likewise many different cultural requirements. Become familiar with your specific ones to provide the proper care. One of the benefits of perennials is that once established they generally require little more than average care and an occasional pruning for peak performance and appearance.

Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses are now available with new varieties continuously appearing. Some of the reasons for this astonishing rise in popularity appear to center around the practical, as well as aesthetic merit of ornamental grasses as a whole. As we become increasingly aware of the environmental forces in the landscape around us, many of the ornamental grasses that have an inherent ability to handle both the drought years as well as the wet years are being sought. This is something particularly appealing to us here in California with our “El Niño” rains and “La Niña” droughts. Another valuable environmental characteristic of some of the ornamental grasses is the ability to endure the continuous freezing and thawing of soils typical of the colder parts of the country during winter. There are also grasses that will thrive in relationship to water such as around ponds, streams, and actually in the water!

During the growing season depending on variety, ornamental grasses range in height from 6 inches to 14 or more feet and can be used as incredible accent plants, ground covers, screens, border edgings, or as companions with a wide range of flowering annuals and especially perennials. Color of foliage includes shades of green, green/yellow, green/blue, blue, red, brown, and variegated. Dried foliage and flowers on many ornamental grasses are attractive and will gracefully sway with the wind in the cold months adding a new dimension to the winter garden as well as being excellent for use in floral arrangements.

Grasses can have different cultural requirements so be familiar with the types you are growing. A couple of general requirements is that most prefer full sun, and should be cut to the ground in late fall or early spring when the leaves have turned brown. Use our Search function to find out specific variety requirements.