Flowers sold in cell packs or containers should be watered thoroughly and allowed to drain before being removed from their container. A damp root ball is less likely to fall apart. Do not pull plants from their containers. Remove plants from individual containers by tipping the container and tapping the bottom. To remove plants from cell packs, turn it upside down and squeeze the bottom to force the root ball out of the pack.

Till the planting bed mixing in a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic matter and lime and fertilizer based on a soil test report. Dig a hole for each plant large enough to accept its root system comfortably. Set the plants at the same depth or just slightly deeper than they were growing in the container. When filling the hole, firm the soil lightly and water thoroughly. A starter solution made from 1 tablespoon of a high grade phosphate fertilizer in 1 gallon of water can be used to water transplants.

Space plants so that they will fill in but not be crowded; crowding increases the likelihood of disease development. Tall, upright plants such as snapdragons should be spaced about one-fourth as far apart as their mature height. Tall, bushy plants should be spaced about one-half as far apart as their mature height. Rounded, bushy annuals should be spaced about as far apart as their mature height. To make beds look more uniform, use a staggered spacing plan instead of setting plants in straight rows. Transplant in the cool part of the day or on an overcast day to minimize stress. Check newly planted transplants for moisture stress frequently until new roots have had time to grow into the surrounding soil. Remember that the root mass is initially only as large as the original container, so apply irrigation water toward the base of the plant until it becomes established.

A mulch should be applied after planting. Mulches help keep the soil surface from crusting, reduce soil temperature, conserve moisture, and prevent weed seed germination. Organic mulches can add humus to the soil. Use a 2- to 3-inch layer of material such as pine bark nuggets or pine straw. Apply only 1/2 inch of mulch at the plant crown; excessive mulching around the crown can create disease problems.

Consumer Horticulture | Quick Reference

© Erv Evans, Consumer Horticulturalist
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