Tips for Planting Outdoors (and Not Killing Your Darlings)
The thought of livening up your lawn or backyard with some flowers can certainly be an exciting one. Perhaps the grays of winter are making you yearn to surround your home with more vibrant colors. Or maybe you’re even thinking of surprising a loved one for an upcoming holiday by giving them flowers that won’t get stuck in a vase and die after a week.
That said, planting always comes with the risk of failure, especially if you don’t take steps to do so properly! Make some wrong choices and those mood-lifting hues might just fade before you know them. And if you wanted to plant a longer-lasting token of your love and it ends up a dead mass around the doorstep? Hoo boy…
Planting flowers is more than a “set and forget” activity, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated, either. With the right information and consideration, you can significantly increase the chances that the plants and flowers you care for won’t wither before their time.
Here are a few things to consider when you’re thinking of planting some new foliage around your home.
Are the Plants Made for Our Region?
Just because you can order seeds and plants from just about anywhere off the Internet does not mean all the flora of the world is open to our area.
A plant that has its origins in one region may suffer when facing the climate and conditions of another. The surrounding environment and soil can have an extremely important influence on a plant’s ability to thrive.
Here in West Michigan, we tend to see more sandy soil than other places, and of course more temperate and colder temperatures than you would find to the south. A few plants that might work great for your location are hibiscuses, Lenten roses, and mugo pines (if you’re looking for trees).
Do be mindful of conditions around your particular property, though. Your soil might not be as sandy, and other plants may be preferable.
Do the Plants Prefer Sun or Shade?
If the soil and temperature are favorable for your plants, it’s time to consider where exactly on your property would be best to plant them.
Some plants thrive in direct sunlight, while others survive best in shady conditions (and it’s a good thing they do, otherwise our forest floors would likely be a lot more barren!).
It pays to consider these preferences. Plants that rely on plenty of sun time will languish in shady areas. Blooming will cease and they’ll be in a generally weak and fragile state. Put shade-thriving plants in too much sun, and watch them get scorched and browned.
If you’re planting around your house, be mindful of how the shadow moves throughout the day. It can be OK for a plant to get an hour of sun or shade, but you should try to follow a plant’s exposure suggestions as best as possible.
Have You Waited Long Enough to Plant?
Unfortunately, the simple fact that you just bought a plant from a local establishment does not necessarily mean outdoor temperatures are currently best for them.
Keep in mind that nurseries have greenhouses and climate controlled environments to keep plants healthy. Putting them out into a still-frigid Michigan can mean curtains for them—or at least be a nasty shock!
Preventing your plants from exposure to killing frosts can be trickier here than in other places, so follow weather reports and local expert recommendations. This may very well mean that your Valentine’s Day gift may be delayed, but that’s certainly better than the alternative. Get some chocolate to tide your sweetie over for the time being.
Are You Transferring Your Plant Respectfully?
We’re serious about this one. When transferring from a container to your yard, being careful with how you do it matters.
Plants with roots can sometimes be a little stubborn about getting out of their nursery pots. This does not mean you should tug and yank the plant out by their stem, however!
Many plants can be especially vulnerable at their stems. Tugging on them like this can damage them, and that damage can make them more susceptible to invasion by fungi and pests (just like us when we have injuries, honestly).
Be gentle when removing plants from their nursery pots. If they are stuck, tap on the pot to try and loosen things up. And if that doesn’t work, you may need to carefully cut or break the pot off the plant. It’s not ideal, but it’s still preferable to pulling on the plant!
We’re Your Local Source for Planting Projects!
We hope these tips help you with your next flower or shrub planting session. If you have been considering something more expansive for your home or business, however, we can provide expert planning and execution!
Our landscaping team can make plants not just a nice addition, but a beautiful, cohesive part of your lawn or yard. We take everything into mind, too, including shade patterns, traffic flow, and any other factors that could influence the use of your property.
In addition to landscaping, we also have fertilization services that help prime your soil for optimal plant survival and pruning services to keep your pristine landscape from turning into an untamed jungle.
If you have been thinking about revitalizing your landscaping, we would love to discuss it with you. Give our Holland office a call at (616) 399-6861 or fill out our online contact form.