Planting Tips

Planting Plugs

  1. Plants should be removed from the box if shipped and placed in a shady location until they can be planted. It is best to plant your plugs as soon as possible after you receive them.
  2. Make sure the plugs are well watered before you plant them.
  3. In your previously prepared planting area dig a hole just slightly bigger than the root ball and place the plug in the hole to the same level that it was growing at in the container. Back fill the hole and firm the soil around the root ball so that it won’t settle drastically when watered.
  4. Water the transplants in well to settle the soil around the root ball and eliminate any air pockets. Using a root promoting fertilizer to water the plugs in can reduce the time it takes for the new plants to establish themselves but it is not required.
  5. Apply mulch around each plant no more than 2” deep making sure not to bury the crown of the perennial which can cause it to rot, perennials will not tolerate as much mulch as trees and shrubs. Mulch helps to buffer the plant against the elements, insulating it from temperature extremes and drying winds.

Planting Tips

  • Plant your plugs on an overcast day or in the late afternoon/early evening to minimize the root balls exposure to the hot sun and lessen transplant shock.
  • When planting a lot of plugs see if you can get someone to help you, that way one can concentrate on laying out the plants while the other works to plant them in a timely manner.
  • Water your plugs in with a natural fertilizer the night before you plant them to promote growth after planting. This will allow you to skip this step later and use straight water to water the plugs in after planting, saving time and money by reducing the amount of fertilizer used.
  • Mark or label the wildflower plugs or at least one of every variety so that you can identify them later on.

Aftercare

While the new wildflowers are getting established it is important that they are not allowed to dry out. Make sure to keep the root balls moist until the plugs have had a chance to send new roots out into the soil. When you water, water slowly and deeply, you can check this by sticking your finger down into the soil to see how far down the water has gone. This also works to check how dry the soil is and if it is time to water again.   You must continue monitor and water your new transplants when need for the first year while they work to grow the deep root systems that will allow them to become self-sufficient.  Excessive watering will produce weak plants with lazy root systems that require your continued attention, if you are not sure if it is time to water dig down into the soil and see where the moisture level is.

Wildflower plantings should be hand-weeded as they become established, read more on this topic in The War on Weeds. Allowing the dead vegetation to remain in the fall has many advantages with the first of course being that it’s the easiest thing to do. This debris or natural mulch helps to protect the roots and crown of the plants as well as providing a winter home for insects like butterflies which in turn attracts hungry birds in search of a meal. Seed is allowed to mature and disperse when this is desired and there is winter interest in some of the seed pods and dried vegetation.

As the winter freeze up approaches it is a good idea to make sure that the ground is wet enough to freeze solid for the entire winter.  A late season deep watering will definitely help insure that new plants make it through the winter.  This is especially important in the Chinook Zone where temperatures can be in the teens for days and then plummet to minus twenty for a week only to shoot up again and melt all the snow cover with warm drying winds. In the spring the woody stems and large pieces of debris from the previous season’s growth should be cleaned up to make way for the new growth but leave the smaller leaf litter and debris behind to act as a mulch layer and feed the soil.