Hi there Blue Thumb Blog readers. Did you visit your neighborhood nursery on May 19 for Ask A Green Gardener Day (AAGGD)? I’d like to hear about the questions you asked and what you learned from the Green Gardeners. I also want to thank all the Green Gardeners and the nurseries that participated.
And, while you were at the nursery for AAGGD, did you purchase some low-water use California native and Mediterranean-type plants?
Past posts have talked about grouping plants with the same water and exposure (sun) requirements so they can be irrigated on the same valve (or zone). Why? I like to use the example of a Lavender and a Hydrangea. A Lavender is a low-water use plant that wants to bask in the sun. The Hydrangea, on the other hand, is a high-water use plant that wants protection from our hot afternoon sun. If these plants are planted next to each other and irrigated on the same valve, one or the other – or perhaps both — will not be healthy and beautiful, because they’re not going to receive the amount of sun and water that each plant needs. This is not a Match Made In Heaven (MMIH).
One tip is to find out the origin of the plant. Hydrangeas are native to countries such as Japan, China, and Korea, whereas Lavenders are native to the Mediterranean region, Canary Islands, and Madeira. So, there’s our first clue. These plants are from places with different climates and conditions. Our goal is to select plants from places with climates similar to ours. We can try and try – AND try – to bring plants into our gardens from parts of the world with drastically different conditions, but that is really counter productive.
Every time I talk with people about selecting the Right Plant for the Right Place (RPRP), not only are the types of plants that do well in our area discussed, but the downside of NOT selecting the right plants. (By the way, Right Plant, Right Place also means placing plants where they have enough room to grow to their mature size and natural form.) The majority of the people I visit with also want less maintenance. Well, ignoring the RPRP rule results in the opposite — excessive pruning to make the plant fit into the area where it was planted, which causes stress on the plant, and leaves the plant vulnerable to to pests and diseases. Then what do we do? Usually we try to overcompensate by giving the plant extra water, fertilizer, and pesticides to try to get it to be healthy again. It’s a vicious cycle that CAN be avoided all together.
Have you installed the plants that you purchased at AAGGD? Here are planting instructions for trees and shrubs. Also, here’s a diagram for placing the low-volume drip emitters to irrigate for your new plants. I’m including these diagrams so the newest members of your garden can be planted properly and irrigated well.
The main point with the Emitter diagram is that emitters are NOT to be placed right next to the base of the plant because that will increase the likelihood of crown rot by keeping the base of the plant too wet. Instead, emitters should be placed mid-way between the base of the plant and its dripline (the outer edge of the plant’s canopy). As the plant matures, the emitters need to be moved out and emitters may need to be added. Remember, the goal is for the water to reach the entire root area (root zone). How deep the water has soaked into the root zone can easily be checked with a soil probe.