In the Life of a Garden Centre

Question asked / Questions answered Part 2

Teased by cooler temperatures in the midst of May we begin now to see the firm time for getting the gardens planted. Soon glorious patio or porch pots along with hanging baskets will be displayed throughout our communities.

Folks will be out and about this week and the weekends to come with their list of annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, vegetables and herbs.

Gardening like most hobbies or interests come with questions of "how", "what", "which", and "where", amongst many other scenario prompts of inquiries. We continue to unravel those subjects for you.

Question: "Oops, it got cold outside last week...Will my plants live after they were exposed to colder temperatures?"


This is something we hear in the planting season when some have planted early. Sometimes plants do get touched by colder temperatures than we expected; maybe not true frost but sometimes by those still cool north breezes. Those early plantings not protected at times when temperatures dipped or during frost warnings may show signs of frost, or just being too cold for its' liking. One indicator that temperatures dipped a bit too low may show as a change in the leaves. Some plants turn yellow/tawny or translucent. Some may wilt and eventually turn crisp within a day or two after the frost has occurred. These leaves may be removed or trimmed until the plant has time to recover and produce new leaves. Some plants may undergo a color change in their leaves. Cooler temperatures sometimes cause leaves to turn yellow or even shades of oranges and deep reds as seen with geranium leaves. Newly planted perennials may produce new leaves from their roots. In reference to trees and shrubs, these will also regenerate new leaves, though it may take longer than new ones occurring on annual plants. Nurturing your plants with regular watering when needed and fertilizing it will promote healthy new growth.

Question: "How often do I have to water a newly planted tree or shrub?"


That depends on a few things. Smaller container plants such a two gallon pots may require watering more than a 25 gal container plant. It also depends on the weather. It is very important in the plants first year of growth to monitor and supply moisture and nutrient to the plant in order to support optimal root growth. Healthy roots equal healthy upper plant performance. Plants positioned in shady areas may remain moist longer than those in full sun areas. Those planted in a garden bed with a layer of heavy mulch will remain moist longer compared to a bed with exposed topsoil. Those planted in open areas where wind is strong will require more as the soil will dry quick in combination of the wind causing the leaves of these plants to transpire more.

Cooler temperatures in spring may require a watering once a week while later the warmer months with temperatures in the +30C may require those same plants to be watered 2-3 times a week. Please note that rainy days have to be monitored as light rains may not be sufficient in replacing a good slow dousing of moisture to the root system. As well, those planted close to homes may not receive moisture from any rain due to overhanging ease troughs in conjunction with locations in proximity of foundations, already being known to be dry and warm.

Question: "I just bought a patio planter filled with flowers and other plants. How do I care for it?"


Containers come in different sizes but they all need watering and general care. First, water is a must. The soil must be moist not soggy. The soil in your planted containers may dry slightly between watering times as it is important for the plant's roots to breathe as well. How much water used depends on the size of the container. When you water you want to make sure to apply enough water to ensure the entire root ball or soil area is completely wet. You should apply enough water to see water running out of the bottom of the drainage holes in your container. It is important to drain any excess water from saucers that floor pots may be sitting in. Plants do not like to "sit" their roots in standing water for long periods of time.

Smaller containers will require more water than larger ones just as those in shadier locations may require less than those in a sunnier hotter location. Wind plays a factor on how fast plants dry out as well. Hanging baskets and pots of similar size should be checked daily for moisture. On very hot days you may be required to water twice a day. When watering from the top of the basket ensure that the water is getting to the root area and not running off the leaves of the plant. Also note that the water in entering the soil/roots and not just running to the edge of the planter and falling over the edge of the container. Hint: a slow steady drench is best to ensure moisture goes from top to bottom of the soil.

Rain is not a substitute for watering your hanging baskets and patio pots. Two days of a slow steady rain will have most thinking their containers have been well watered only to find the next sunny warm day with their plants maybe wilting. In fact, the full lush canopy of leaves boldly above the baskets and containers may have been acting much like an umbrella only allowing a fraction of water to reach its soil and roots.

It is also recommended to feed your plants either with an organic based fertilizer like a fish emulsion or with a garden fertilizer with a ratio mix close to 15-30-15 or 12-36-12. You should fertilize once to twice a week on larger container patio pots and sometimes 3 times a week on hanging baskets. You will notice a difference when fertilizing as your leaves will be lush and blooms will flower all summer long. As well, most notice larger blooms with use of a fertilizer.

Gardening questions are numerous. Knowledge is meant to be shared just as gardening stories new and old are told from one hobby gardener to another as from one gardening expert to another. We all; even the experts learn something new from what we grow.

St. Mary's Nursery & Garden Centre has been growing and caring for plants for over 30 years. With 65,000 sq. feet of covered greenhouses as well as its complete nursery of trees and shrubs, we have the plants suited for your gardening needs, both inside and out. Located at 2901 St. Mary's Road, St. Mary's Nursery can assist you.


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