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Each spring...a gardening instinct, sure as the sap rising in the trees, stirs within us

~Lewis Gantt~

Successful Spring Transplanting

There's no question, spring is here to stay in our Zone 7 garden. Plants are getting the boot from the greenhouse and finding themselves out in the elements. The beautiful weather made me forget almost everything I have ever read about how to make a successful transition.

Please don't take a closer look in our garden right now, there's some sunburned brugmansia, limp tomato plants and more gardening don'ts to be noticed. It's a good thing that most plants are very forgiving but giving them a good start goes a long way to getting them off faster and healthier.

Don't do as I did, rather, read on to learn how to give your plants a great start this season.

Hardening Off

Don't take them from their protected area directly to the full sun spot in the garden. While the plants will live, they will take an additional 2 to 3 weeks to recover from the shock treatment and sunburned leaves are not a pretty sight. Here's how to properly harden off your plants:

Move your seedling trays or pots outdoors to a dappled shade and wind protected area for half a day, gradually increasing the amount of time to reach a full day by the end of a week. Be sure to keep your trays watered as your plants will loose more moisture when outside.
If your plants are meant to be grown in full sun, start putting your trays into more sun by about day 5.

After about a week to 10 days, your plants are ready for their outside home.

The 20 Dollar Hole

The likelihood of a plant doing well is inversely proportional to how expensive it was and how much you like it! I have been known to stick a spade in the ground, pull back the soil and plop the plant into the resulting slit. This method works but is generally not recommended. So don't dig a 2 Dollar hole, make it a 20 Dollar one and your plants will thank you.

Dig a hole twice as wide and about as deep as the root ball, break up clumps of dirt and amend the soil with compost to make it nice and fluffy. Set the plant in so that the crown is level with the top of the soil surface and back fill. Water in well, use a stick or your fingers to remove air pockets. Back fill some more. Skip the fertilizer, plants really need to settle in a while before they can respond successfully to additional stimulation. Decent soil, moisture and sunlight is all most of them need.

Problems after Transplanting

Sunburn: Leaves will turn white or silvery, depending on how extensive, the complete leaf may turn crispy and die. There's nothing you can do about the ones that are sunburned already, but get a laundry basket or trim some branches off a nearby shrub and shade your plants for a few days and let your plant recover.
Wilting: Are plants limp in the morning, water them well. Are they limp in the afternoon, shade them and check them later in the evening or first thing the next morning. More plants are killed by over-watering than under-watering, when in doubt, use your built-in moisture sensor (right index finger for me) to check about 2 inches deep. There are all types of watering aids that work on capillary principle which can be used to temporarily provide just the right amount of moisture to new transplants.
Late Freezes: Hardy perennials will weather cold nights with barely a brown spot on their leaves, tender perennials and annuals will need protection. An upside-down clay pot, an empty milk jug or soda bottle will work, so will an old pillow case or a sheet for a larger area. Remove in the morning, especially if you will be gone most of the day so as not to cook the plants once the sun comes out.


May in the Garden:

Plant Nanny Bottle Stakes:
Glass Globes:
Large Capacity Globes: