Monday, January 28, 2013

Converting Plant Care instructions to my area

I swear I could win a Noble Prize for creating a mathematical formula for plant care as it applies to my area. I can't pick up a plant without it reading, full sun, well drained soil, water once a week, right?  Wrong!

Last summer, I say with complete sincerity that it was impossible for me to over water my plants.  I watered them heavily and daily and if I missed I day, they would wilt...if I missed too many days they wouldn't bloom.  Now, I tend to translate instructions.
This morning, I was planting a Sweet Olive in full shade, when it read partial shade...why?  Because I am making a conversion, am I right?  Not sure but I think so.  The heat here can be unbearable.    

You can't even trust the zone sometimes because the just discusses temperatures and not rainfall, humidity etc.  The other thing you always see is good drainage.  Here is Coastal Alabama, very close to Pensacola Florida, we have a ton of clay soil.  Clay doesn't drain well.  Sometimes I wonder, if that is by design.  If the plants just melt under the heat, doesn't the clay help retain water???

I planted Clereya This is what it reads for plant care

Plant care link  for clereya

Full-sun to Part-shade

I put this one in partial shade....
WaterRegular water
Soil TypeWell-drained garden soil
FertilizerEarly spring
PruningShape as needed

To mean, this make a river here

The water doesn't drain well and it is on a slope....cancels each other out???

Found this excellent article from Bellingrath which is huge garden in our area
Growing Roses at Bellingrath Gardens and Home


NellJean said...

Here's why you can't trust the zone. The zones are based on minimum winter temperatures. I'm much less worried about how cold it might get than I am about how hot and humid the summer will be.

My zone 8b is vastly different to Arizona's 8b and the Pacific Northwest's 8b because of humidity and summertime heat, not to mention the difference in soils. Some of their plants simply melt here, come summer.

Bellingrath's page said, 'Growing roses is not for the TIMED gardener.' I think they meant timid. Otherwise, it's as close to perfect advice for your area as you'll find.

Your clay soil needs humus. You should be able to water deeply about twice a week. If your established plants are wilted in the evening come summer, it's from the heat. If they're wilted in early morning, they need water -- this is just a general rule of thumb.

There are some things you can plant in a wet soil. Calla Lily is one; in their native country they're called pig lilies.

Janie Jurkiewicz said...

That is really good to know, Nell about the wilting part. I am in zone 8b, too. We do get a ton of rainfall here though. I am really glad you said that about the wilting so here is a dumb question. If they are wilting and I water them (wilting from the heat, I mean) they become a bad idea to water them? Am I over watering? It is implied that they unwilt become I am essentially cooling them down. Second question, are daily wilting bad for the plant. I remember from high school biology that wilting is caused from turgor pressure...or I think that is what it's called. will look up what causes wilting. I agree on your timid concept. Roses are definitely not a plant it and forget it flower,that is why I have been so busy planting the ornamentals....I don't have to mess with them near as much..I usually call them "flowers I don't have to **** with" Regarding the calla lilly great idea. I married my husband a year and half ago and I wanted all the flowers from my wedding growing in my garden.

NellJean said...

I stick my finger in the ground up to the second joint. If the ground is damp, I don't water.

If you lightly water daily, you'll have to keep it up. If you water deeply you can water less often.

Newly planted material may need frequent watering until it is established, but it needs deep watering, not a sprinkle.

I use very sophisticated devices for measuring where my sprinklers run: Tuna Fish Cans.

Calla Lily bulbs should be widely available soon.

Janie Jurkiewicz said...

Man NellJean...that's high tech stuff :)