PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS AND CARE GUIDE FOR NEW PLANTS
Thank you for choosing K+K for your new plant purchase! We truly appreciate your business. To help your new plants start out right and stay happy and healthy, please refer to the following planting and care recommendations.
PROPER PLANTING TECHNIQUE for plants in 1 gallon pots or smaller. These are generally annuals, vegetables, ground covers, herbs and most perennials. For larger size plants please see our ‘General Planting Instructions for Trees and Shrubs’.
1: BEFORE DIGGING set your plants out, still in their pots, exactly where they will be planted. Stand back and check the area, from several angles, to ensure they’re correctly sited and spaced with their best side facing forward.
2: DIG the planting hole to the same depth as, but slightly larger than, the plants’ root ball. Mix a small handful of compost or soil conditioner into the soil at the bottom of the hole. If you don’t have your own compost we generally recommend bagged Cotton Burr Compost or Flower Bed Conditioner, available here at K+K. Or ask one of our experts for the specific compost or conditioner that is best for your plant material, as there are many to choose from.
3: CAREFULLY remove the plant from its pot. Do not disturb the roots unless absolutely necessary. If the plant appears very root bound, showing mostly white roots with very little potting soil visible, score the side of the root ball lightly with a sharp knife.
4: SET the plant into the planting hole so the top of the root ball is even with or slightly above the existing soil line. Gently pull in the surrounding soil to fill in the space around the root ball. To prevent rot and possible death, do not pile soil around the stem(s). Excess soil should be smoothed out evenly over the planting area or removed. Remember:
PLANTING TOO DEEPLY IS THE NUMBER ONE CAUSE OF PLANT FAILURE!
5: WATER IN your new plant thoroughly to help settle the soil and drive out any air pockets around the roots. We recommend watering in with a naturally root stimulating solution of fish emulsion, John’s Recipe or Liquid Seaweed. When planting a number of new plants, watering in can be done in stages. However, don’t allow more than 15 to 20 minutes to pass before watering in.
6: MULCH around the new plant and planting area, no more than 2”-3” deep, with the mulch of your choice. Mulch is important to deter weeds, help hold moisture in the soil, and to help cool the root zone in the intense heat of summer. To prevent rot and possible death, keep the mulch pulled away from the stem(s) of the plant.
LONG TERM CARE TIPS TO KEEP YOUR PLANTS HAPPY AND HEALTHY
WATERING: Your new plants should be watered deeply and regularly through the growing season. To deep water, set your hose to a slow trickle and allow it to flood the planting area for 15 to 20 minutes. Move the hose as necessary until all the new plants have received water. Generally, deep watering once a week or so is sufficient. However, heavy clay soil may need less frequent watering. and very sandy soil may require more frequent watering. (If you have a sprinkler system, try to approximate 1” to 2” of rain per week.) Regularly check the soil around the root zone of your new plants by plunging your finger at least knuckle deep into it. If it feels very dry, you should water. If it feels damp, or very wet, let it go. Always check the soil around wilted plants before watering, as plants may wilt from over-watering or excessive afternoon heat as well as from under-watering. Keep an eye on the weather, as this will affect your watering schedule. During hot, dry, windy conditions you may need to water more often. During rainy spells, reduce the frequency of watering.
WINTER WATERING: Planting areas such as flower beds benefit greatly from occasional watering during the winter. Plants, even if they are dormant, can and do die from drought in the winter. Also, plants will come through a sudden cold snap much better if the soil is moist. Continue to monitor soil conditions during the fall and winter and deep water, as above, as necessary.
FERTILIZING: Feeding your plants regularly during the growing season will keep them vigorous, increase the number and size of blooms, and help them to better withstand diseases and insect damage. We recommend a light sprinkling of an organic fertilizer, such as Plant-tone, bat guano, or worm castings, applied monthly around the root zone. For an extra boost, water the fertilizer in with a natural tonic of fish emulsion, John’s Recipe, or Liquid Seaweed mixed with ‘Thrive’, a soil microbe inoculant. Please ask one of our experts for specific fertilizer recommendations for your plant material.
FALL AND WINTER CARE FOR ANNUALS: Ideally, summer annuals should be pulled and replaced with winter annuals mid-September through October. This allows adequate time for strong root growth before the ground gets too cold. Winter-flowering annuals, especially pansies and violas, enjoy an occasional feast of blood meal. In repayment, pollen and nectar from their flowers are a food source for the over-wintering adult beneficial insects and butterflies that help keep your summer garden healthy and lovely. Winter annuals should be pulled and replaced with summer annuals by the end of May, to allow time for strong root growth before the intense heat of summer. Annuals planted in the summer will require extra care and water.
FALL AND WINTER CARE FOR PERENNIALS: Perennials are best planted mid-September through mid-November or again late-February through May. Perennials planted in the summer will require extra care and watering. Most perennials go dormant after the first hard freeze, the foliage and stems becoming dry and brown. Perennials allowed to stand through the winter will over-winter more successfully, and may also provide winter forage and shelter for wildlife. Cut back the old dead growth in early spring, just above the foliage newly emerging from the ground. Be aware that not all perennials die back to the ground. If you’re not sure, please consult with one of our experts about your specific plant material.
GENERAL PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS FOR TREES AND SHRUBS
PROPER PLANTING TECHNIQUE for plants in 2 gallon pots or larger, or ‘ball-and-burlap’ (B+B) plants. These sizes are generally trees, shrubs or larger perennials.
1: BEFORE DIGGING set the plant, still in its pot or burlap wrap, where it’s to be planted. Look at it from a distance, and from several angles, to be sure it’s properly situated with its best side facing forward.
2: DIG the planting hole as deep as the plants’ root ball, NO DEEPER. Dig the hole at least twice as wide as the diameter of the root ball. In heavy clay soil, you may want to dig the hole a few inches shallow, so the top of the root ball will be slightly above the existing soil line. This will allow for additional drainage. Please take your time making the planting hole—it’s the most important thing you will do for your new plant!
3: DO NOT DISTURB the soil at the bottom of the hole.
4: PULL the plant carefully out of its pot, if it’s in one, and place it in the hole. Do not remove burlap or wires from B+B plants. Once placed in the hole, stand back and check to make sure the plant is standing straight. It’s OK for the root ball to be planted slightly slanted, if necessary to make the plant stand correctly. If the root ball appears heavily root bound, lightly score the sides of the root ball with a sharp knife before planting.
5: FILL the sides of the hole with soil until it’s even with the top of the root ball. We recommend using a half and half mix of backfill (the soil taken from the planting hole) and bagged Cotton Burr Compost, available here. This will provide some nutrition, condition the soil, help hold moisture, and help to establish roots quickly. Never use compost straight—it must be mixed with soil to prevent root burn.
6: MAKE SURE the top of the root ball is even with or slightly above the existing soil line. The small feeder roots that may be visible on top of the root ball must have exposure to the air, or the plant may suffocate. Remember:
PLANTING TOO DEEPLY IS THE NUMBER ONE CAUSE OF PLANT FAILURE!
7: WATER IN your new plant thoroughly to help settle the soil and drive out any air pockets around the roots. We recommend watering in with a naturally root stimulating solution of fish emulsion, Johns’ Recipe or Liquid Seaweed.
8: REMOVE any protective shipping wrap, stakes or ties from the trunk of your tree, if necessary. Remove any burlap or wire ABOVE the surface of the soil from any B+B plants. Staking new trees is only recommended for specific conditions, such as high wind areas. Please consult with one of our experts before staking your new tree.
8: MULCH over the top of the planting hole with a 2” to 3” layer of the mulch of your choice. Mulch helps to retain moisture, deters weeds, and keeps the root zone cooler in the intense heat of summer. Keep the mulch pulled away from the trunk or stems of the plant, to prevent rot. Remember that mulch over 3” deep, or any type of soil, over the top of the root ball can cause failure to thrive, or even death. We will be happy to recommend the best mulch for your specific plant material.