New Plant Care 101

New Plant Care 101

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99% of all new planting failures are due to improper watering techniques.
Proper Care for Plants Still in their Nursery Containers:

  1. When brought home from the nursery, it is best to place plants in a sheltered location, safe from strong afternoon sun, wind, critters, and neglect.
  2. When brought home from the nursery, it is best to place plants in a sheltered location, safe from strong afternoon sun, wind, critters, and neglect.
  3. If root ball is dry, water immediately, applying water slowly so it soaks into the root ball and does not just run down the sides of the container and out the bottom. Check plants at least twice a day until planted.
  4. Depending on the time of year and the size of the container, plants may need water up to 3 times per day.
  5. The goal is to keep the soil evenly moist (not soggy).
  6. Plant as soon as possible.
  7. A plant only needs to dry out ONE time to cause plant failure or stress.

Proper Care for Plants Planted in Decorative Containers:

  1. When planting into decorative containers, sun and wind exposure will need to be taken into consideration when determining a watering schedule.
  2. Always apply enough water to wet all the soil in the container, being sure that the root ball on new plantings is absorbing water and staying moist.
  3. If enough water is applied, some water will seep through the drainage hole(s) at the bottom of the container. It is not a good practice to allow a plant to sit in a saucer filled with water. Roots sitting in water (starving them for oxygen) will cause plant failure almost as fast as drought stress.

Watering Newly Planted(in the ground) Perennials, Shrubs, and Trees:

  1. Proper watering is THE MOST CRITICAL aspect of establishing new plants, especially during our hot, dry summer months.
  2. Check new plantings DAILY in summer. If plants are wilted in the morning, the plant is either not getting enough water or the water being applied is not penetrating the root ball sufficiently.
  3. Watering should be done EARY MORNING, if possible. Plants begin actively using water in the soil at daybreak. Early watering also reduces the amount of moisture lost through evaporation.

Watering New Plantings Using a Drip Irrigation System:

  1. A plant from a #1 (1gallon) container will require at least 1 gallon of water every time it is irrigated. At least 1-1gallon emitter should be placed at the base of the main stem; this ensures the existing root ball becomes thoroughly wetted with each watering.
  2. A plant from a #5 (5 gallon) container will require at least 3 gallons of water every time water is applied. Three 1 gallon emitters will be needed One emitter should be placed at the base of the main stem(s) of the plant; the other 2 emitters should be placed at the outer edge of the root ball, one on either side.
  3. Using 1 gallon per hour emitters and your irrigation system will need to run anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to deliver the amount of water specified above. A drip irrigation system that runs for 10 or 15 minutes WILL USUALLY NOT DELIVER ENOUGH WATER TO SUFFICIENTLY WATER NEW IN-GROUND PLANTINGS.

Watering New Plantings Not on a Drip Irrigation System:

If watering new plants by hand, a sturdy well (a ridge of soil about 1-2 inches high at the outer edge of the plant’s root ball) needs to be constructed. A similar amount of water will need to be delivered as mentioned above for drip irrigation. Remember, the goal is to have the water go INTO the root ball. The well should be enlarged as the plant grows.
Watering Frequency During Summer Months:

  1. Water every day for THE FIRST 2 WEEKS; then every other day for THE NEXT 2 WEEKS
  2. AFTER 1 MONTH, most perennials, shrubs, and trees will begin to spread their roots so your watering schedule will usually become less frequent but for a longer period of time.
  3. Remember that any drought stress during the first month will seriously delay the transition process, making your new plant more susceptible to heat and cold stress, insect and disease infestation, or simple failure to thrive.
  4. Bedding plants such as annuals, veggies, herbs, and any seedlings usually require daily watering MAY – SEPTEMBER. Those plants with an all-day, full-sun exposure may require a second watering in the afternoon JUNE – AUGUST.

For an extensive discussion on watering landscape plants go to