BY GLADYS JEURINK
I like to move
some of my plants every year in order to dig more compost into the soil.
Others I move because they have been shaded out, and some others need to
go where they can not spread so far. Fall is a good time to do this. COREOPSIS
have now gone to seed so I cut the heads into a wide bowl with
scissors and toss them into their new home. Of course there will be some
in both places! The SHIRLEY POPPIES can be treated the same way but they may have over a
thousand seeds in their heads so I generally roll the pods in my hands
to loosen the seeds and scatter them out. (Books tell me that POPPIES have as many as 30,000 seeds per case.) I do not try to
cover either of these as they need light to germinate. Some years I
leave the seed heads in their bowls until after I have raked leaves and
then throw them in place. I will walk on them so they make good contact
with the soil but do not cover. POPPY
SEEDS need light to germinate. LARKSPUR
will seed themselves of course, and usually come up in the fall and
wait until spring just 1 to 2 inches high.
In nature plants drop their seeds when ripe, and then will freeze
and thaw a few times during winter.
When we bring in different plants such as tropicals we sometimes
need special methods to get a new generation.
whose roots we need to dig to move, may require a little different care.
PEONIES need to spend the
summer making food and enlarging their roots so fall (September) is the
best time to transplant. IRIS
need at least six weeks for their roots to get settled in before winter
stops progress so August is a good time to divide and transplant.
One plant I think you can move any time without killing it is the
DAYLILY, but you will affect the bloom. You will notice the roots
have little nodules of “energy” attached to them. Be careful when you transplant as freezing and thawing will
lift a loose plant out of the soil.
Sometimes it is
easier to layer a plant than to move it, especially if it is large or
has been in place several years. Many of them have low branches that you
can anchor to the ground with a brick or rock.
It speeds things up if you scrape the portion of the stem on the
ground to get roots started. Some shrubs are fast, such as the VIBURNUM
and CORAL BERRY while others
may take an entire season. The
mother plant is feeding your new one while it roots. WILLOWS
who secrete a hormone used in commercial rooting products are as
fast as any shrub. You can
cut the end off a branch, put it in damp soil, and soon have a new
This is the
time of the year we can move our houseplants if needed.
If they have been in the same soil for several years you may want
to cut them back to suit your space, lift them up and shake as much soil
as possible off the roots, and add new potting soil to fill the same or
a bigger pot. Some plants
such as ORCHIDS should be
completely stripped of the old material.
Many ORCHID potting
soils are not soil but organic materials such as ground bark, etc., that
works much better in pots. Set your new plant in a partially shaded area
to recover and prepare for coming in when it starts to get cool in the
evenings. This also gives you a chance to check for bugs or diseases.
I see BANANA
PLANTS more often here in Lincoln but never see any ripe bananas. Mine gets huge and beautiful and most years has one or two
babies from the roots that I separate off and pot up and bring in. I do
this as the mother plant is too big. This means she will freeze before
having a long enough season to produce.
Some of my catalogs now have mini banana plants that will have
fruit but I haven’t tried one yet.
Those big, gorgeous striped leaves are enough.
They will tear in the wind, so hunt for a good area when you
plant them outside. The baby needs a fairly good sized pot as it will
grow some in a warm, well lighted place during winter.
They need a fair amount of water all year to support those leaves
which my be 5-6 feet long and 2-3 feet wide.
TREE should be large enough next spring to have a few figs.
They seem to come directly out of the branches.
It is a “Brown Turkey” as I had one other before but it got
too big and so I started this one. Directions say you can let them
fruit, drop leaves and then put in a shelter where it will not go below
zero degrees F., but I have always brought mine in.
I have never had a crop to brag about but at least I know what a
fresh fig tastes like. The little COFFEE TREE bloomed this summer and now has a few “beans” along
its branches, but it will have to come in as it is 2 ½ feet tall.
There are those
plants that resent moving and sulk for a long time. CLIVIA
is one of those and directions say to let them break the pot before
repotting. Mine has been in the same pot now for 5-6 years and blooms
every spring about February or March in the garage where it has had only
1-2 waterings all winter. My AMAZON
LILY, about 18 inches high, is now in bloom but it came with the
same orders-“DO NOT REPOT”. Perennials that do not like to be moved include the
BUTTERFLY MILKWEED (Asclepsis
tuberosa) with its very long tap root.
ANNUAL POPPIES very seldom survive transplanting.
To see if your
houseplants need new pots, turn them upside and drop the plant out of
the pot. If the roots are badly tangled, trim both the roots and the
plant, or “butterfly” the roots as George described in his article
last week, and put in a larger pot. If they are very root bound, you may
have to use a knife and slice around the inside edge. You also may want
to wash some of the soil away in order to unwind the roots. If you trim
the roots enough, your plant can go back in the same pot. Otherwise do not put them into a pot more than 2 inches
bigger as too much soil can become water logged, which encourages
things about moving plants in the fall:
Roots get a good start in cool weather;
A wet spring might prevent moving;
A hot dry spring is hard on new plants without a good root
things that can happen are:
A dry fall and roots don’t get enough water;
Freezing and thawing will cause loose roots to come out of the
If planted early or we have a long fall, the plant may start new
growth that will not get mature and will get frozen.