I’m going to blame it on the crazy winter we had, but almost all of my azaleas are dead. I waited a few extra weeks thinking that they would come back to life, but no. Dead, dead, dead. It’s like an azalea graveyard in my backyard right now. And these are just the ones that I’m not replacing.
I am going to try to be smart and not replace all of them. Seven others were still within their 1 year guarantee, so as long as I can find my receipts I can bring them back to Home Depot. It’s a good thing I keep my receipts nice and organized.I picked up 7 more azaleas at Home Depot this weekend and I’m going to leave it at that. At least for the azaleas. They’re not my favorite plant or anything. I also bought a few perennials to fill in some bare spots out front and some annuals, which I only use in pots. And then there’s the peach tree. My 6-year-old Lulu was clenching a peach tree with both hands saying , “Peach tree, peach tree” over and over again. I’m not one to give into kids having a fit at a store, but it was a tree for crying out loud, so I couldn’t resist. I did make her figure out a sunny spot to plant it first. Her response, “Where the apple tree died.” In the end, the tree is slated to live across from its cousin the nectarine tree. In exactly the spot I just dug up the skip laurel and planted a small photinia last week. Yea, I am indecisive, what can I tell you. But the tree hasn’t been planted yet because after we got it home Smart Jr informed me that she has to be the one to plant it. Apparently she’s working on a tree badge for Girl Scouts. How convenient. But the kid is busy 24-7 with school and sports and hasn’t had the chance to do it yet. Don’t fear, I did take it out of the pot it came in and put it in my favorite turquoise soft bucket. I filled the bucket halfway with water allowing not only the plant to get drink, but it also helps to loosen up the roots which had been crammed into that black container for way too long.Speaking of crammed roots… You guys know you’re supposed to loosen up the roots before you plant something you bought in a container, right? Sometimes when you
pull shake a plant out of its container the soil is all soft and crumbly. That’s perfect. It means the roots are free and loose and ready to find a new home in your dirt, whether it’s the ground or in a pot. But lots of times when you remove a plant from its container it comes out in one nearly solid piece. That’s no good. If you stick the root “ball” in the ground like that the plant is not even going to realize it’s out of the container and its roots aren’t going to spread out into your soil. And even if the roots are smart enough to know they’re in new soil, they might be so intertwined and stuck together that they can’t branch out. So what’s a smart girl to do? Loosen up the roots before you plant that plant! (Sorry for the crappy iPhone pic)It didn’t photograph well, but this was one of those times where the roots and soil were easy to loosen on the outside layer, but my fingers could not even penetrate the wall of roots on the inside. What’s that about, you ask? Well that means that this azalea used to be in a smaller container. Perhaps it sat on a shelf all season and nobody bought it, all the while the roots grew and grew and circled round and round that small pot. Finally the plant was getting so big that someone decided to move it to the next sized pot. So they stuck the nearly solid root ball into some nice loose soil and some of the roots expanded, but the original root ball never loosens up. Remember that story the next time you try to stick a plant in the ground without loosening up its roots.The other important thing you need to do for the roots is make sure they have room to spread out in the ground. That’s why on planting directions it says to dig the hole twice as wide as the plant’s container. That’s not to make life difficult for you, that’s to make sure the soil AROUND the plant is loose. So yes, you are going to dig a wide hole and then fill it all back up with the soil you just took out. It’s so it’s loose and airy and not compacted to the point where the roots are going to have a hard time penetrating it. What you should add back to the hole is a story for another time. Oh and it’s 2x as WIDE not 2x as DEEP because the roots like to spread out in search of water (falling from the sky) and not down into the worst soil on your property. Really I dug the hole before I take the plant out, that way any soil that comes off will fall right into or near the hole and I can just push it in. You don’t want to waste the nice amended soil. Now stick your plant in there at just the right depth. Different plants have slightly different requirements, but in general, match the top of the root ball to the top of your soil. Got it? You don’t want to see root ball sticking out the top and you don’t want it to be buried under a bunch of soil either.It looks low in this picture, but I assure you that it’s all good now.Now repeat. Haha. I planted a bunch of azaleas, a blueberry bush, a few perennials and some of those annuals. I’m hoping it doesn’t all wash away in this crazy week of rain we’re having. On the bright side it’s perfect for planting grass seed!