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How to Plant Your Seedlings

It is easy to plant Rugged Country plants!

In a Nutshell:

  1. Plan your planting.
  2. Keep plants cool and moist.
  3. Good soil moisture.
  4. Control weeds.
  5. Plant soon and water.

Before Your Plants Arrive

Make sure your soil is moist from either rains or irrigation. Your soil does not need to be “wet,” but it needs to be moist a couple feet deep so the plants will not dry out and die. How to Plan Your Naturescape for more detail.

Handle Plants Gently

After receiving your plants store them in a cool and shaded place and plant them as soon as possible. If you absolutely cannot plant for as much as two weeks, then you need to store them between 35° and 45° F in the shade or refrigerator is best and you must make sure the roots do not dry out and the tops of the plants have good air circulation so molds do not start attacking the plants. Do not let your plants freeze.

Open the shipping box and stand all plants upright for good air circulation and to facilitate checking the root ball for adequate moisture. Use your finger to see if the soil is moist and dip the plants in a bucket of cool water when the soil starts to dry.

If you have RootMaker™ Premium potted plants, take them out of the plastic bag and dip the pots in cool water for a few seconds until the soil is saturated then stand the pot up to let the soil drain.
If you have Estate Plugs™ first make 2 or 3 slices in the bottom of the plastic wrapped “jelly roll.” The slices should be about 1 inch long for drainage.
Then dip the jelly roll in cool water for a few seconds to saturate the soil.
Then stand the plants upright to drain and leave them in a shady cool spot until planting.
Before shipping to you plants have been kept in the open environment or in a cooler at near freezing temperatures, so they are cold hardy and can tolerate frost, but do not let the box of plants freeze below 28° F or the plant roots will likely be damaged. Planting sooner is much better than later. Do not store plants near herbicides like Weed-Be-Gone.

Plant Immediately -or- When You Plant...

Planting the same day you get your plants is the best time!

Before your plants are scheduled to arrive have your planting plan done and lay out where each plant is going to go.
We supply landscaping flags FREE when you order full box plant quantities.
You may want to write on the back of the landscape flags a plant code to help layout where each plant goes in your landscape. A good code is the first two letters of the Latin genus name combined with the first two letters of the Latin species name. Or you can use a 1, 2, 3 numbering code. If you are interested see Why are the names of plants confusing?

If your plants arrive actively growing earlier in the fall or actively growing in the spring, first dip plants in clean cool water to saturate the peat moss. If your plants are dormant when they arrive and the rootballs are moist and the soil you are transplanting into is moist, the plants may not need water. However, dipping the RootMaker™ pots usually assists the extraction of the plant.

Transplanting is simple. Just dig a hole slightly deeper and slightly bigger that the root ball.

To remove the plant from the RootMaker pot, turn the Premium RootMaker Pot upside down and sharply knock the corner of the pot against the top edge of a bucket or against the foot rest on a shovel to get the plant to release from the pot and start to drop into your hand. Grasp the plant by the stem at the soil level and gently remove the plant from the pot. It helps if the plants have been dipped in water first.
Your hole needs to be deep enough so that all the peat moss root ball will be covered by about ½ inch of soil. Do not compress the peat moss root ball; if necessary dig a deeper hole.
Back fill the hole with soil only, no leaves or other debris.
ABOUT FERTILIZER: Native plants are very good scroungers for nutrients. Native plants can survive and grow very well without adding fertilizer in the Intermountain West. This is assuming your soil has average fertility. (Sandy soils, mainly, will benefit from organic matter and fertilizer amendments.) If you know your soil is not fertile by such evidence as the weeds are not doing very well or other usually easy to grow plants like turf grasses are not a normal healthy green, then you might want to fertilize. There are many good organic fertilizers available in the market place. Any of them should work fine; just follow the instructions on the package. Slow release fertilizers also work well, but be careful not to overdo the application and burn your plants.

Gently firm the soil around the plant with your hands only. Do not use your foot; it will compact the soil too much. When finished the peat moss root ball should be covered with ½” of fresh soil. If the original peat moss in the root ball is exposed to the air, it will dry out faster than the surrounding soil.

Water deeply to settle soil around the plant.

Control Weeds

Weeds are a primary reason many native plantings fail. Weeds steal moisture and nutrients from your desired plants. Ideally, control weeds within a 2 foot radius of the newly planted seedling for 3 years.

Weed control can be achieved by hand pulling, hoeing, plastic or cloth weed barrier, mulches, rototilling (if there is enough room), herbicides.

Fast Planting Pipe Method For Estate Plugs™

Some of our customers plant a large number of Estate Plugs™ on larger projects and they desire faster planting methods. The following Pipe Method will work to plant Estate Plugs™ much faster than digging holes, but it is rougher on the plants and there may be some loss of plants if the method is not applied carefully.

Here is how we use the Pipe Method through weed barrier to plant Estate Plugs™.

Cut 2 inch “X” in ground cloth.
Position pipe centered over the “X.”

Hammer to about 1 inch deeper than the depth of the root plug. Mark a line on the pipe as a depth gauge.

Knock out soil plug from pipe with piece of steel.
Gently push root plug to bottom of hole.
Water to seat plug in the hole.
Your Estate Plug™ is planted! This method is different from and better than using a “dibble” which compacts the soil as the dibble is driven into the ground. But you need to be careful with this hole cutting method, because you can damage tender roots if the hole is not big enough and too much force is required to push the plug to the bottom of the hole. And the Estate Plug™ needs to be at the bottom of the hole with no air gap.
This method is only recommended if you have hundreds of Estate Plugs™ to plant and you want the fastest means to plant, and you can tolerate some loss of plants due to rough handling. If the hole you cut in the soil is larger diameter than the Estate Plug™, then sift with your hands some fine soil down around the peat moss plug and water well to settle the soil around the plug.
WHERE TO GET PIPE: We got the pipe for the Pipe Method from a muffler repair shop. We used 2” diameter x 18” long muffler pipe for 15 cubic inch Estate Plugs™ and 1.75” diameter x 18” long muffler pipe for 10 cubic inch Estate Plugs™. We used ½” x 24” long rebar to clean the pipe after each hole, available at construction supply stores.
NOTE: The Pipe Method will not work if your soil is rocky or too hard.
The muffler pipe does mushroom over as you hammer on it, so it will get used up in the planting process, but it is faster than using a shovel.

In Summary How to Plant Your Seedlings:

  1. Plan your planting.
  2. Keep plants cool and moist.
  3. Good soil moisture.
  4. Control weeds.
  5. Plant soon and water.

Click Home if you are ready to shop for Intermountain native plants. Happy Naturescaping!


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