Flowering shrubs and plants are an essential point in landscapes, adding color, structure, texture, and focal points. Whether you’ve planted shrubs and plants, have had them planted, or inherited them from previous owners, it is important to keep up with their care so they live the longest, most beautiful, and productive lives. Care can be easy, but does require knowing the basics so your plants and shrubs can reach their full potential. Whether you are adding a new plant to your landscape or caring for existing flowering plants, this article will touch on both.
Knowing your location is a key factor when choosing a plant for your landscape to care for. You want what is going to work best in what you’re stuck with! Environmental factors you need to consider are hardiness zone, temperatures exposed to through the seasons, soil status, sunlight exposure and direction, and drainage to name a few. Get plants and shrubs that are aesthetically pleasing and hardy to your area, avoiding choices based on beauty alone. Planting shrubs in locations with inadequate conditions will greatly reduce their appearance, performance, and longevity; and may even be detrimental for it to thrive and survive. Its strongly recommended to follow your hardiness zone because this provides an indication as to where each shrub is likely to survive the winter months.
The development of the hardiness zone map started in the 1930’s and through a long process and numerous updates; last one being in 2012 the guessing game has been taken out of the equation of what shrub will do best in your zone. A hardiness zone is a geographically defined area in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing, as defined by climatic conditions, including its ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the zone.
In most parts of North America, early spring is the best time to plant and/or do the necessities for established shrubs. If planting a new addition, whether you bought online or from a local store, it is best to get it in the ground within 1-3 days. If it is not possible to plant them within this time period, keep them in an area that provides some degree of shelter from the natural elements (sun, wind, rain,) until they can be planted. If shipped to your home, open the boxes immediately and remove them and all packing materials. If the soil is dry water until the root ball is thoroughly moist. For established plants spring is an excellent time to do any pruning. Deciduous shrubs that have become overgrown can best be dealt with after flowering has occurred. Evergreen shrubs should be worked on in the spring time as well. Try not to go to extremes when pruning because it may not recovery if severely pruned.
Spring is the time for annual mulching for new and/or established shrubs. Mulch is available in a variety of colors and textures, from white rocks or gravel to pine bark, compost, or pine needles. Whatever the material, all mulch serves as a protective layer between the soil and the elements. Mulching not only keeps in moisture, but will keep unwanted weeds to a minimum. Mulch keeps weed seeds out of the soil. Seeds that are carried by wind and animals stay on top of the mulch instead of getting in the soil and allowing them to root. Second, mulch blocks the growth of weeds beneath the mulch mat by blocking sunlight and air circulation. It takes at least 2 inches of mulch to prevent weed growth, as a thinner layer may allow weed seeds to reach the soil. Some plants, such as acid loving azaleas, prefer pine needles or leaf mold. Mulch helps keep the soil cool during the warm months by preventing evaporation and has the opposite effect in the cold months. It keeps the soil warm by acting as a barrier between the cold air and the soil around the plant. Mulch will protect plants from lawn equipment and trimmers as well as give your landscape a manicured, groomed look.
Most landscapers and home owners apply annual fertilizers in the spring. There are a huge variety of fertilizers from organic to chemical based, but the job is simplified by remembering that the purpose of fertilizers is to ensure optimal nutrition for the plants in the landscape. Twenty nutrients have been identified that are essential for plant growth. Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen are supplied by air and water. The other 17 are found in the soil and are absorbed by the plant’s root system. Six of these nutrients, called macro-nutrients, are the most important to plant health. Nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, potassium and magnesium are all needed in relatively large amounts.
Investing in these low cost necessities and easy care annual maintenance is worthwhile because the payoff is year round beauty and eye appeal for you, neighbors, and all traffic by your home. Your landscape requires care to ensure its continued health and success. Caring for plants is easy when space is considered for it to grow so little pruning is needed, light requirements are factored in, fertilize annually, and mulch annually. Do it right, keep it simple, and it can be easy.
Consider spring blooming plants such as azaleas, peonies, spirea, and loropetalums to add a pop of color in your landscape by shopping our online selection.