Plant Stress Kills
Temperature – We’re all anxious for warm weather, but one of the worst things to do is put a plant out before it’s warm enough. For many plants, like geraniums and tomatoes, they need a minimum of 50’F or they can show signs of stress (loss of leaves, yellowing, stunted growth) setting them back for several weeks or more. And for some plants, like tomatoes, if they drop below 50’F they may be permanently stunted.
Light – When you first buy a plant and take it home, you should “harden it off” by placing it in the sun for a few hours during the morning and in the shade during the afternoon so that it doesn’t get sunburned. Each day you can increase the time in the sun until it’s at the appropriate amount (Part Sun=less than 6 hours, Full Sun=more than 6 hours). When the temperatures increase the roof of our greenhouse opens, so plants get direct sun and are quicker to transition once you take them home.
Hail – Last year many of you suffered a tough spring including Hail. As long as there’s some foliage, the plants should recover Hail, especially under warmer weather, but realize it may take several weeks to see major improvements. For plants that have been entirely stripped, unfortunately you’ll have to wait and see if they are able to re-grow.
NOTE: If a plant has been stressed by cold, hail, etc. the worst thing is to stress it even more by over-watering! Make sure to check the moisture (either by the weight of a basket/pot or by testing the soil with your finger) before giving any plant water. Don’t assume a plant needs water if it looks a little wilted, since this could be a sign of a stressed plant that does NOT need water. Also keep in mind that a stressed plant is more susceptible to root diseases and pests!
Give your Perennials time!
WARNING! The last few years the calendar may say it’s Summer, but we’ve been seeing unusual cold. Many perennials, like Hibiscus and Butterfly Bush, need lots of heat before they begin to sprout. If you’re unsure if a plant is alive you can dig in the soil around the base of the plant and if the plant feels firm and solid, give it more time (possibly as late as July 1) before pulling it out. But if it’s mushy and soft, it has probably died from root rot (being too wet over the winter/spring).
NOTE: The largest cause of plants not surviving the winter is often root rot. If you want to increase the survival rate of any new perennials, mound the plant up high, so that water drains away from the base of the plant.
Below are additional care sheets for more specific recommendations: