Optimal Watering for Most Plants

Optimal Watering for Most Plants

Watering can be tricky, especially when soil consistencies vary so much from one microclimate to the other in Middle Tennessee. There is one way to water plants so that they get the water they need, without over watering. This will eliminate about 95% of watering issues. About 99% of plants that die each year are killed by insufficient watering, either too much or not enough. When planting, be sure to use soil conditioner so the soil will be more predictable. Mulching around plants is always recommended, and helps reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation. It also insulates the root system, saving water and keeping the roots warm in the winter time. Upon planting a new tree, shrub, or perennial, thoroughly water the plant initially. This is after mulching around the base of the tree. Keep in mind that when you are initially watering, that you are trying to soak the whole root ball very thoroughly. This could take several minutes. Check with your hand to make sure water penetrated the soil and the root ball is wet. Wait 24 hours, and go out, and manually check the soil again. If the top 3-4 inches is dry in 24 hours time, you’ll know the soil there drains very fast and you will need to keep on the watering. If the top 3-4” of soil is dry, water again thoroughly, and repeat the step. If the soil is moist in the top 3-4”, wait 24 hours, and check it again by using a finger to dig into the soil. Repeat this process until the top 3-4” of soil dries...

Belgian Hybrid Mums- Fall 2016

Belgian Hybrid Mums: Belgian Hybrid Mums are the most common mums stocked for fall decoration in our area. They now are available in an array of colors. Mums are sold in the fall of the year normally and flower until our first frost, normally around the 3rd week of October. They can last longer if they are brought inside or covered during the frost. These Mums are sometimes planted in the ground and, depending on the winter, and the plant, can come back the next year. They are usually not very long lived, so having them come back more than one year is very uncommon. Bring inside on nights when frost is forecasted. Deadhead to promote blooming. Mums require adequate water, but do not like to dry out or be too wet, like most plants. So monitor the watering twice daily for the best results. Depending on the size of the plant and the size of the container, they can dry out somewhat quickly. Southbranch Nursery purchases 100% of our mums from local growers....
Great Foundation Plants for Middle Tennessee and Murfreesboro TN

Great Foundation Plants for Middle Tennessee and Murfreesboro TN

Foundation plants are the inner structure of the landscape. They are like the bones of it all.   These are plants that normally create the backdrop in the landscaping. Most commonly, these plants are evergreen, and need to be very hardy to avoid loss and costly replacement. While some plants are great foundation plants for the Murfreesboro area, other plants are commonly mistaken for good foundation plants. Some plants do not tolerate our clay soils, extreme heat, humidity, drought/ rain (depends on the year), cold, or can be a nightmare to maintain. So, which plants make great foundation plants for Middle Tennessee? Here are some I do and do not recommend using: Recommended: Dwarf Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)- very tough, great for full sun Otto Luyken Laurel (Prunus laur. ‘Otto Luyken’)- needs room to spread- full sun to part shade Boxwood- (Buxus) –most are great for this application-full sun to part shade Dwarf Burford Holly- (Ilex cornuta ‘Burfordii Nana’)- full sun Spreading Japanese Plum Yew- (Cephalotaxus harr. ‘Prostrata’)- needs afternoon shade Emerald Spreader Yew- (Taxus ‘Emerald Spreader’)- low growing, best with some afternoon shade Globe Arbovitae- (Thuja occidentalis ‘Little Giant’ or ‘Globosa’)- very tough, great for full sun Euonymous- (Euonymous jap. ‘Aureo- marg., Straight species, ‘Silver King’, ‘Chollipo’, ‘Aureovariegatus’, sp. Microphylla,)- most varities are tough and withstand full sun, poor soils, extreme heat. Juniper- some varieties make nice foundation plants while others will be too hard to manage in some situations. Check with your local professional. Not recommended: Compacta Holly- (Ilex crenata ‘Compacta’)- needs too much water, will not withstand extreme heat, lack of water, and is not very long...
When do I fertilize, What do I fertilize?

When do I fertilize, What do I fertilize?

While it is true that all plants benefit from fertilization, using the wrong fertilizer or applying it at the wrong time can have equally detrimental effects. When we get a few ‘Spring like’ days, lots of people want to start fertilizing everything in hopes of bigger, healthier plants in spring. Some neighbors will say throw your old food scraps on vegetables, some say they clean out the chicken coop and put that around plants, and others simply go for the old trusty, Miracle Grow, and dump it on everything. Well, in reality, using the wrong fertilizer will kill the plant faster than not fertilizing at all. Here are some basic tips on fertilizing. Most deciduous plants, in Middle Tennessee, should be fertilized in early to mid-March. It is very important not to fertilize too early because plants can begin to use that fertilizer in 10-14 days, which, in turn, can make them push out early. If they do push out foliage early, and we get a late frost, as Middle Tennessee is known to do, that foliage can be damaged and the plant’s health can be compromised. This can even be fatal for some plants. Fertilize plants when the weather warms up. If we have a ‘late winter’, in such that temperatures are staying low into early March, wait until the 2nd or 3rd week of March to fertilize. Most deciduous plants like a balanced fertilizer, with the exception only being a few. Some dogwoods, oaks, and Japanese maples like being fertilized from time to time with a more acidic fertilizer, normally suggested for evergreens. In most all other...
Cutting Back Ornamental Grasses- When and How

Cutting Back Ornamental Grasses- When and How

Most, but not all, ornamental grasses die back in the winter time. Whether it is our natural instinct to cut something back once it has died back, or just the neat appearance given by having the grasses cut back, they are best cut back in early Spring. Cutting grasses back too early can lead to damage or even death. Knowing when to cut them back is as easy as looking closely, but you have to know for what you are looking. When it comes to cutting back ornamental grasses, everyone seems to have the same misconception; cut them back as soon as they are brown. This is not the best time and can jeopardize the health and life of the plant. If you have been in the industry as long as I have, you have seen your fair share of customer’s, or your own, grasses that have either had a significant portion of the plant not come back out in spring, or they died completely. This is normally due to cutting them back at the wrong time of the year. The dead, brown grass that remains in the Winter season acts like an insulator when the cold weather moves in. This keeps the grass’ root system from freezing out when it’s real cold. Even more importantly, this uncut grass deflects and blocks a lot of moisture from getting in the crown of the grass. When the crown of the plant stays too moist, you will get some loss. Another issue with cutting your grasses back too early is it leaves open stalks of grass exposed to rain and the...
Why You Should Not Plant a Bradford Pear Tree

Why You Should Not Plant a Bradford Pear Tree

Bradford Pear trees have long been the ‘go to’ tree for easy care and fast growth. They also bloom beautifully, grow uniformly, and display a nice fall color. “So what’s wrong with planting a Bradford Pear”, you might ask. The biggest drawback to having Bradford Pear trees, especially in our area, is their reputation for breaking during our storms, most commonly in Spring. Many cities and counties are even banning the planting of them. When there are so many other great trees you could plant, I have to ask, ‘’Why would you want to plant a Bradford Pear.’’ After reading this entry, you might ask the same question. Bradford Pear trees have a soft wood, like many other trees in their family. That is a disadvantage for them, especially since they grow and foliate so densely. Another huge disadvantage for them is the angle of the branching. The angle of the branching does not allow the Bradford Pear to grow up strong like an Oak or Maple. So besides the wood being soft, the branching is constantly testing the woods integrity. Adding insult to injury, the leaves are so dense on the Bradford Pear that they catch more of the wind, thus making them even more susceptible to breakage. For that reason, every Spring in Middle Tennessee, we get storms with strong wind and lots of people lose their Bradford Pears. There is nothing you can do but let it grow back out or cut it down. That can be time consuming, disheartening, and costly. With so many options, why would anyone even want a Bradford Pear you might...