Articles in Category: New Plants

Watering 101

on Friday, 29 May 2020. Posted in Drought tolerant, Fruit trees, New Plants

Watering Guidelines for the Rogue Valley

soaker hoseWith the temperatures rising and summer right around the corner, we thought this would be a good time to give you a little “Watering 101” overview. Watering problems are behind the overwhelming majority of the garden-related concerns we deal with here at Shooting Star. We’d love to help you avoid some of those problems this summer! Let’s start with a few basics:

--- Even if it is 100 degrees out, do not water twice a day - or even every day! Your plants can’t take up that much water; they actually shut down when it gets very hot. In addition, most plants actually need a period to dry out between waterings.

--- Frequent, shallow watering (e.g.: 10 minutes a day, every day) only encourages shallow root systems in perennials, shrubs and trees, which makes your plants even less drought tolerant!

--- Ideally your yard should have multiple irrigation zones, to accommodate different plant needs.
      • Trees should be on their own watering schedule, separate from shrubs, perennials, and lawns
      • Drought tolerant areas should be a different schedule than areas that need more water
      • Lawns should always be on their own separate watering schedule

One of the trickiest things about watering is that everything happens out of sight – under the ground – where you can’t see what’s going on. Here’s a quick little exercise that can help you get a better understanding of what’s going on below the surface. Pick an area and water on your regular schedule. Wait for about an hour after watering (to let your water soak in), and then dig down to see how far down your moisture zone extends. In general, the roots from lawns will penetrate about 6-8” into the soil; most perennials will go 2-3’; shrubs will go anywhere between 3-6’ down; and a tree’s roots are often as big below the ground as your tree is above the ground. In order water effectively, you want your water to penetrate all the way down to where those roots are. What did you learn?

Woman Watering Garden Hose.jpg.653x0 q80 crop smartSo what are our recommended watering strategies for different kinds of plants? For most perennials and shrubs: water deeply every 2-3 days for first 2-4 weeks after planting, then switch to every 3-4 days. After the first year, drought tolerant plants can usually get by with a weekly deep soak of an hour or more during the growing season. Once established, non-drought tolerant plants will generally need an hour-long deep soak twice a week. If weather is cooler, or if you have heavy clay soil, your plants will need water less often. Trees need a good deep soak upon planting, and then on average a deep soak for an hour or two once a week through the first summer. Once they are established, trees will be fine with a long, soak every two weeks. If you are watering trees with drip, consider placing multiple emitters in a ring around the tree.

Finally, retrofitting your irrigation system might sound overwhelming, but it is actually pretty easy. If you are the DIY type, the folks at Grover’s and the Grange do a good job of walking you through the process, answering your questions, and making sure you have the parts you need. If DIY just isn’t your thing, there are a number of irrigation specialists here in the Rogue Valley who can install a system that does what you needed to. Rest assured that the money you spend upgrading your irrigation system will be more than made up for by the money you save when you don’t have to continually replace dead and dying plants!

Want to learn more? Check out our Watering Guidelines for the Rogue Valley handout here.

 

It's Time for Bare Roots!

on Thursday, 02 January 2020. Posted in Edibles, Fruit trees, Classes, New Plants

Fruit Tree and Berry Season

homeWinter2017 Bare Root Fruit Trees and Berries

Foggy mornings, cold nights, soggy ground, and winter storm warnings - that means it’s a perfect time for planting bare root trees and shrubs! Our first shipments of bareroot have already arrived, so this is the perfect time to start making your 2020 fruit tree wish list.

Bare roots, for those unfamiliar with them, are dormant plants (generally fruiting trees and shrubs) that are sold with exposed roots. We hold them here at the nursery in bins filled with soil, to keep the roots from drying out. When you buy them, we dig them out, pop them into a plastic bag, and you’re on your way! And although bare roots look a little…unimpressive…at first glance, there are a lot of great reasons to consider planting a few this winter.

              Selection: You’ll find the biggest selection of fruiting trees and shrubs at this time of year - ranging from hard-to-find food plants like quince, jujube, elderberry, currants, and hops; to a larger selection of sizes (from dwarf rootstock to semi-dwarf) and varieties of fruit (five kinds of strawberries, five kinds of grapes, ten kinds of peaches and four persimmons!).

              Price: Because these are bare roots, nurseries have a lot fewer costs invested in them: no containers, no soil, no fertilizer - and they haven’t spent months (or years) caring for them as they’re growing out. Those savings are passed along to the buyer, and they can be significant.

              Mid-Winter is a great time to plant: It might seem counter-intuitive, but this is a wonderful time for planting trees and shrubs. The ground is moist and plants are dormant, so plants are far less likely to go into transplant shock than they are during warmer and drier times of the year. In addition, because the ground is soft, tree-sized holes are a lot easier to dig!

              Getting to the root of it all: Plant roots are amazing structures: they hold plants in place, pull water out of the soil, and store the nutrients plants need to grow and be healthy. And root structures are incredibly variable. Some plants produce lots of thin, fibrous roots; some rely on a long taproot; and others have root structures that branch as widely and intricately as the above-ground part of the plant. And yet, we rarely get to see them! This is probably the only time you’ll have the opportunity to see the whole plant you’re working with. And that can help give you a better understanding of what your trees and shrubs need in order to grow and thrive.

blackberriesapple treepeach

There are just a few things you’ll need to keep in mind when planting bare roots, in order to get your new plants off to the best start possible:

  • Try to get your bare roots planted within a few hours of getting them home. Your bare root plants are dormant, but they’re not indestructible. If you can’t get them planted immediately, make sure you keep roots from drying out between the time you bring your plants home and the time you get them planted.   You can keep them moist inside the plastic bag for a couple of days.  It is best to heel them into some soil or moist bark if you can’t plant them right away.
  • Hold off on fertilizing your new plants until all risk of frost has passed. Fertilizing too soon can push leaf growth before their roots have had a chance to get established. In addition, new leaves are thin and tender and can be killed by late frosts.
  • It is best to prune back the branches of your bare root tree.  You want the top of the tree to be more in line with the root system.  This will help give the roots a better chance at supporting what is up top.  Have more questions?  We can help at the nursery or come to our fruit tree pruning classes on Feb. 15th and Feb. 22nd!
  • Please feel free to ask us questions! The staff here at Shooting Star is happy to help you with suggestions about the best varieties to plant, how much space your plants will need, and what pollinizers (if any) your plants will need in order to produce fruits. We can even give you a few simple pruning suggestions to get you started on the right foot with your new plants.

Thoughts on the 2017 Perennial Plant Symposium

on Tuesday, 05 September 2017. Posted in Drought tolerant, New Plants

Inspiration from the PPA Symposium by Erik Petersen

Recently I had the opportunity to attend an amazing conference hosted by the Perennial Plant Association.  Held in Denver, Colorado, the overall theme was plants that perform well in high mountain areas, barren soils and low water settings.  The Rogue Valley fits squarely into this designation. 

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While there was certainly a lot of discussion about new plants and plant selections, I found many of the big picture concepts to be really eye opening about the current state of gardening we find ourselves in and heading into.

PPA conferencedelosperma

 

 

Regional Appropriateness

For years there has been a heavy presence of either East Coast plant material or plants that thrive on the East Coast that has been marketed across the entire United States in a one size fits all category.  Botanist, breeders and gardeners alike have started to shift away from this mentality and focus more on either western forms or regionally appropriate selections that will thrive in the Western United States.  As an example, some ornamental grasses originating from overseas or the Eastern U.S. or the mid-west struggle in our arid soils containing low organic matter and a high pH.  New western forms such as Bouteloua ‘Blonde Ambition’ (Blonde Ambition Grama Grass) or Sorghastrum nutans ‘Thin Man’ (Thin Man Indian Grass) are excellent examples of grasses that are regionally appropriate since they perform well in our area.

 

Arctostaphylos Howard McMinn 8032077f8a2fbf8f459f39a08c7ee55bAnother issue this area deals with is that we do not get the natural summer and fall rains the east coast does so this factors into what plants will regionally thrive in this area.  Gardeners and designers from around the country are envious that we can grow Arctostaphylos (Manzanitas), Ceanothus (California Lilac) and Rhamnus ‘Eve Case’ (Coffeeberry) here.  These evergreen shrubs won’t miss a beat in our dry summers and early fall and as such we should embrace our region’s environmental uniqueness and plant accordingly.

 

 

 

 

Alliums (Ornamental Onions) while not always native, are another wide-ranging species that perform exceptionally well here.  They can thrive in dry soils that drain well and are devoid of lots of organic matter.  There are literally dozens of forms to choose from but a few highlights from the conference were:  Allium ‘Millenium’ (2018 Perennial Plant of the Year), Allium ‘Christophii’ (Huge ornamental heads with steel-blue flowers) and Allium thunbergii ‘Ozawa’ (A fall blooming selection).  Alliums are incredible pollinator plants that provide both pollen and nectar for beneficial insects. 

Euphorbia with Allium

Having a love affair with the hose when the trends suggest otherwise!

IMG 0297 1One of the top current trends in gardening is gardens that are low water and adaptive to the conditions.  For a resource in that is often scarce and expensive (water) there are plenty of plants that can be solutions to this need.  Many plants that are regionally appropriate for this area do not want constant or copious amounts of water once they are established in the ground since this can be detrimental to the plants or lead to their death.  Plants such as Agastache (Hummingbird Mint), Arctostaphylos (Manzanita), Penstemons (Beardtongue) and Eriogonum (Buckwheats) and ornamental grasses in general are all water wise plants that thrive in our region and have many attractive qualities about them.  When summer temperatures and heatwaves consistently reach over 90 degrees plants such as these usually go into a hibernation phase of sorts where they stop growing and ride out the heat until temps return to normal.  As gardeners, our natural inclination is to water more as the temperature increases which is often the exact opposite of what we should do.  A once or twice a week deep watering of plants in the ground will be adequate to meet their needs.  Over watering leads to rotting of the roots or stressing the plants.  Designing gardens with low water needs but that also exhibit desirable ornamental qualities is the current and future trend.  Other amazing perennials that are adaptive, low maintenance and drought tolerant are:  Monardella (Coyote Mint), Zauschneria (California Fuschia), Delospermas (Ice Plants), Hesperaloe (Red Yucca) and Sedums (Spreading Stonecrop)

 

New Concept of value of plants.

panicumThe traditional benefits of plants were promoted and thought of as “items” that brought happiness, beauty and increased property value to our life.  Over time new concepts have risen to the top as to the value that plants bring into our world.  Today’s cutting-edge designers are thinking about how plants can help with improved water and air quality, providing food (both to humans and animals), their functionality and how they benefit wildlife.   Many plants can serve multiple functions and overlap criteria when it comes to designing.  For example, Panicum grasses (Switch Grass) serve multiple uses.  Not only are they extremely drought tolerant (their roots can go down 14’) but they sequester carbon from the air and put it in the ground thus helping with air pollution.  Their foliage is very attractive and their seed heads can be a food source for birds.  This is an example of one plant providing at least four sources of value, not all of them just for humans. 

I came away from the Perennial Plant Conference with a new sense of looking at how plants are being used, valued and incorporated in today’s designs and projects and what our responsibility as gardeners, landscapers, designers and plant propagators is in today’s changing world. 

-Erik Petersen