As a public figure and student of horticulture, one of the most challenging things I often deal with is folks wanting and expecting me to give simplistic answers, tips and solutions to things, that aren’t nearly as simple as one might think.” The state of not knowing is far more simple than having all of the information and deciding what’s best. While I love variety, I often find myself having to simplify in order to calm my anxiety and still make progress.
For instance, Ive got this new way of ordering food. I scan the menu and hone in on the first thing that inspires me. “Ooh that sounds deelish!” I stop right there, no matter how long the menu is. Why continue to look and give myself the challenges that come with other options? If I like something, I should just go for it!
I know what you’re thinking! “But what if there’s something better, more nutritious, more appealing, or simply more delicious for me to choose?” The truth is there’s likely always something that we might like better; always something that will bump that initial “ooh I want that” with an “Oh no I want that instead”. The trick to maintaining that state of bliss is to simply decide. Ignorance is the opposite of Intelligence. Intelligence is just a fancy word for knowing, it is the capacity of understanding truths. But remember, we’re talking about ignorance being blissful, not intelligence.
It’s been said on more than one occasion that gardening is calming and therapeutic, and while I completely agree with this, I’ll also have you know that what I specialize in is blitz style landscape makeovers. I’m a horticulturally trained landscape contractor that takes gardening, shoots it up on steroids and slams outdoor living makeovers in such a way that anyone observing is blown away at just how fast and how aesthetically pleasing this intensely laborious work can be executed. The only thing that’s blissful about what I do is seeing the final end product.
Landscaping for someone like myself is both fun, challenging and highly conscientious work. I’m charged with the responsibility of managing what already exists on each property and how I will modify, recycle and re-use what’s there to cost effectively create a space that’s lovely, serene and will weather well. There’s a lot more to this than just picking pretty plants or deciding on the right fabrics to give that perfect pop of color. It’s not all bliss! I won’t bore you and go into all of what’s involved in regards to determining proper exposure, and/or workability of amended soil. I won’t bore you with the technical conversations involved with horticultural yard manifestation (landscaping).
You know, conversations like the one I had with my brother yesterday where we talked about whether or not the process of scoring the rootball on new plants was necessary or helpful. We spent at least 10 minutes on the phone, and had barely scratched the surface with whether or not this action, that I was taught in 1995, was truly helpful to the establishment and overall health of a new plant. I know I’m wrong for not inquiring about your own thoughts on this topic, but there is only so much time I have on any given day. Besides, if ignorance is bliss, why should I ruin your day?
Proper Rootball Care is Not All Bliss
I can tell you this though. Roots only know what they are exposed to. Genetically, they only do a few things. Primarily, they elongate through the soil, taking up water and nutrients. Ripping, or scoring them, doesn’t actually facilitate that process. Watering, and preparing their new living environment in such a way that the soil around the roots is properly loosened up and ideally improved (what we call amended) can help.
There are so many other factors involved to see that your plants establish a healthy, hearty root zone that scoring the rootball isn’t necessary, in my opinion. It’s likely more damaging. Here is what you should do instead. If your container plant is not rootbound and generally healthy, simply squeeze the container, pop it out, and put it in the ground. Always be sure to dig a nice wide hole, almost twice the size of the rootball hole, and amend this hole with 40-50% organic compost when possible.
Mixing and amending soil is important. Digging a hole, dumping compost into it and sticking your new plant inside, is not going to net you positive results. You want to mix your native soil with compost so that what you end up with is an almost equal blend of this improved loosened soil. It is more closely related to the potting soil that your plant is already accustomed too. The additional spacing around the soil (because you dug your hole nice and wide) ensures that drainage is slowed and soil water will puddle allowing plant roots the opportunity to lengthen and absorb the moisture and nutrients.
Trees are different though. DO NOT AMEND THE HOLE WHEN PLANTING TREES AS THEY NEED A STURDY FOUNDATION AND ROOT SYSTEM AND SHOULD BE GROWN IN WELL LOOSENED, FRACTURED NATIVE SOIL.You should instead top dress your trees with soil amendment AFTER planting. Water and other micro organisms will leach the nutrients down into the root zone of the tree.
Back to Bliss
I’m going to stop there because I could go on and on with other details around other issues affecting the healthy establishment of plant roots, but I’m beginning to feel that blissful feeling start to fade. The more you know, you can’t act like you don’t know, and this my friends, is what being intelligent is all about. Thanks!
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