2019… Let’s start this New Year with your Hometown Gardener’s handy planting guide. “Is this the right time to plant?” is one of the most common questions we get at our nursery. Bear in mind, we do plant landscapes in all 12 months so what we are discussing here are optimum times.
•Spring bulbs- December and January.
•Trees, shrubs, long living perennials- September through March. Ideally you should have these guys in the ground before new growth starts in the spring. Dig, divide, and transplant these same plants after the first hard freeze (generally around Thanksgiving) through mid-March or before bud break.
•Cool season vegetables- Generally leafy crops and some root crops like beets and carrots. September through November and/or February through March.
•Potatoes and onions- January, February, and perhaps through mid-March depending on how quickly we warm up (before bud break on fruit trees).
•Warm season vegetables, flowering annuals, tender perennials- After bud break on fruit trees and certainly in early April and ideally by May. Cool season annuals like pansies plant October through November.
•Fall/summer bulbs- May through August. Dig and divide while dormant which for most fall bulbs begins in May.
•Lawn grasses- May through September.
•Wildflowers- Mid-August through October. Do not water. Just let Mother Nature take care of it.
Watch for bud break on fruit trees to signal the true coming of spring. For fall watch the wheat farmers. When they prepare fields you should begin fall planting. Calendar dates are unreliable. We have observed no particular advantage in following moon phases or zodiac signs. The weather we have in any particular season is what makes good plant response… Or not.
Pot culture- Pots are best suited for seasonal annual color and/or growing tropicals that must be moved indoors during winter. Although some plants adapt to pot culture better than others, there is absolutely no such thing as a plant that “does better” in a pot. Pots restrict root spread so larger pots are the best. Smaller plants like annuals perform best provided your pot is large enough. Larger plants like hibiscus and palm trees need really large pots.
Potting soils are meant to drain quickly and hold moisture well at the same time. Some are very expensive but that does not guarantee better performance. Not all plants require well drained soils. Some prefer boggy soils. Always use a water collection dish under your pots. We grow everything we produce at our nursery in local compost mixed with a bit of local sandy loam. We believe our mix works better than most commercially prepared potting soils. On plants that are heavy feeders (tomatoes, for example) we use small gravel or rock powders to boost mineral content. We do not use NPK fertilizers at all.
Our worms and mushroom diversity at the nursery are a testament to this. These two things are sure signs of healthy soil. If you have poor soil or poor looking plants you can correct whatever problems you have or suspect you have with compost. We have treated countless “salt scalds” with humates (leoarndite, low grade coal) which is a fossil form of concentrated compost. Organic matter of any kind (manure, leaves, grass clippings, shredded wood) will help as it breaks down to form compost.
My advice for 2019: To start things moving in the right direction, stop using NPK fertilizers, especially those brands with high nitrogen. Stop using weed killers of any kind and start working on healthy soil. It is a fact that most weeds prefer poor soil and disturbed soil. Raise your mowing height to 3” or 4” and stop scalping your lawn. It is so much easier and cost effective to enhance the good thing rather than attempt to kill the bad thing. Deep, lush, healthy grass will choke out most weeds.
My space here is limited so forgive the fact that I may not have mentioned the best season to plant your favorite veggie or landscape plant. My recommendations are pretty broad. I really don’t care for “averages” and calendar dates. I have seen many plants bloom out of season or hang on past several hard freezes. My Benson peach was totally defoliated in July, did not make a single peach, but has green leaves on it still… In January! Ya’ll come see us or get in touch if you have questions or suggestions. (940) 696-3082, wvlandscape.com.