|Our goats will do anything to have their picture taken!!
Join us for our July workshop where we will explore
Growing Fruit in the Lowcountry.
The president of the Lowcountry Fruit Growers Society will be joining us to discuss fruit that
won't do well here, things that will and how to take care of them.
Brambles, Figs and Persimmons are just a few of the things that will be on the menu!
Come join us for some "fruity" fun on July 25th @ 10 o'clock AM.
Check in on the Facebook page
, or our website and let us save you a seat!
Come and cut your own flowers, bring a smile to your home!
Visit our flower cutting garden
Sunflowers are $1 a stem
All others are 2 stems for $1
With the arrival of bathing suit weather, it is not uncommon for many of use to eat better, exercise and generally take better care of ourselves. So when we
field questions regarding plants that are struggling or not performing to their peak potential, we have considered advising that we should get our plants ready for a bathing suit! Maybe it's time to talk about the nutritional needs of our plants.
I was asked by one nice lady....Why do I need to feed my plants? Nobody is feeding the plants in the forest. Technically she was correct, no one person was feeding the plants, but Mother Nature was taking care of things as only she could.
When we put plants in containers or our pristine landscapes, we have interrupted the natural order of things. In the forest, leaves drop off every Autumn; they fall to the ground and decompose. Nobody rakes them up into a nice neat pile and hauls them away. That is food for the plants for next year along with animal droppings, worm castings, other plants that die, and micro-organisms. That is Mother Nature's way of feeding her plants. In short, she has a HUGE compost bin. In our yards we clean, primp, rake, and remove all of that potential food, and plants in containers don't stand a chance of benefiting from Mother Nature's grand plan! That is why we must feed our plants.
If you look at a bag of plant food or fertilizer, you will see three numbers. There are all kinds of combinations, for example I will use 5-1-3. The 5 represents the amount of Nitrogen in this product.
Nitrogen is the primary component of proteins and is a part of every living cell. This nutrient is responsible for increasing growth, as long as it is used within reason and in conjunction with other nutrients. Shortages can cause slow growth, reduced leaf size, yellowing, short branches, premature Fall color, leaf drop, and can increase the likelihood of some diseases. An over abundance can cause excessive shoot and foliage growth, reduced root growth, and increased susceptibility to environmental stresses and plant diseases.
This is what a nitrogen deficiency looks like.
Notice the yellow leaves compared to everything around it? This is a Citrus tree that some how or another kept getting missed when it came to feeding time. Everything else around it looks fine. Nitrogen is a nutrient that moves very freely through the soil and is literally washed out every time you water or it rains, especially in a container such as this one. Even in the ground, nitrogen can be depleted and needs to be replaced.
The second number (1 in example above) is Phosphorus. This nutrient plays a role in photosynthesis, respiration, energy storage and transfer, cell division, and cell enlargement.
Though less common than Nitrogen deficiency, Phosphorus shortages can look like this:
Purple veins may appear on the leaves or the leaves may take on a purplish color. It can also cause stunted growth and small thin stems. As I mentioned, it is a much less common problem. If you have ever applied any fertilizer, the chances are good that the Phosphorus is still there. It does not move through the soil freely.
The third number, (3 in example above) is Potassium. I should pause here a second and give you a tiny memory trick. If you have trouble remembering what numbers represent which nutrient, as long as you can remember the nutrients, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium they are always listed in alphabetical order.
Now, back to Potassium deficiency. It too is an integral part of the plants' growth process. It is vital to photosynthesis and helps regulate water consumption in plants. The potassium in fertilizer will help plants overcome drought stress, increase disease resistance, and improve Winter hardiness.
It can look like this:
Typical symptoms of Potassium deficiency in plants include brown scorching and curling of leaf tips. The symptoms generally first appear on older leaves. Potassium can move through the soil fairly quickly, faster than Phosphorus, but not as fast as Nitrogen.
That is a very quick idea of what are called the Macro-Nutrients. These are the plants dinner!
There is also a list of Micro-Nutrients. These are needed by the plant, but in much smaller quantities, the appetizer or the dessert!
This list includes:
Boron. Believed to be involved in carbohydrate transport in plants; it also assists in metabolic regulation. Boron deficiency will often result in bud dieback.
Chlorine. Necessary for osmosis and ionic balance; it also plays
role in photosynthesis.
pper. A component of some enzymes and of vitamin A. Symptoms of copper deficiency include browning of leaf tips and chlorosis (leaf yellowing).
Iron. Essential for chlorophyll synthesis, which is often why an iron deficiency also results in chlorosis.
Manganese. Activates some important enzymes involved in chlorophyll formation. Manganese deficient plants can develop chlorosis between the veins of its leaves. The availability of manganese is partially dependent on soil pH.
Molybdenum. Essential to plant health. Molybdenum is used by plants to reduce nitrates into usable forms. Some plants use it for nitrogen fixation, thus it may need to be added to some soils before seeding legumes (Beans and Peas).
Zinc. This also participates in chlorophyll formation, and activates many enzymes. Symptoms of zinc deficiency include chlorosis and stunted growth.
o, as you can see, many nutrients rely on each other, or deficiencies can mimic each other. There is not much need to worry about the Micro-nutrients, they are included in most good fertilizers. Which brings us to the next point. Types of fertilizers.
The sheer number of fertilizers on the market can be overwhelming! There are granules, water soluble, slow release, quick release, natural, and on and on. I can see why people don't feed their plants, they have no idea what the plants favorite meal might be!
Let me break down a few of the more common ones.
Slow release fertilizer is exactly what it sounds like, releasing nutrients at a rate that makes them available to plants over a long period. Application is less frequent and it is believed they are better for the environment because they have less chance of leaching into the water supply. While slow release fertilizers are a good option, fertilizer spikes are not. The whole story is a long one, but the main concern is that, suffice to say, they are just bad news.
Water soluble, again, exactly what it sounds like. This fertilizer is mixed with water at a specified rate. It will need to be applied more often, but it is available to the plant much more quickly.
Natural fertilizers will supply nutrients in smaller quantities, but usually have more micronutrients than commercial fertilizers. N
atural fertilizers need to be broken down to an inorganic form by soil microorganisms through a decaying process called mineralization. This process is affected by moisture, temperature, and the microbial species and populations in the soil. Some examples of natural fertilizers include, blood meal, sewer sludge, animal manures, fish emulsion and cottonseed meal.
The advantages and disadvantages of natural and synthetic fertilizers relate to the consumer, not to the plant. Use what you feel comfortable with, or have had success with. There is so much information out there and new studies are being done almost on a weekly schedule. But I wanted to bring your attention to the fact that plants DO need to be fed, whether it be naturally or artificially.
I will leave you with this story, completely true!
A woman came to me with a citrus problem. She had a Meyer Lemon that she bought two years ago. It was a nice little tree already bearing fruit when purchased; she was growing it in a pot. When she came to me, the tree had not produced any fruit the prior year and was turning yellow. After a few questions I found out she did not know it needed to be fed, and had not given it anything to eat in the two years she had owned it!! I just looked at her - with a look of horror on her face - she said she would be very hungry if she had not eaten in two years!?
Please remember to feed your plants!!
After the extreme temperatures we experienced last month, this article has been inspired by the plant suffering and mortality we have seen. The most common factor in plant death would be - Watering. Newly installed landscape plants must be watered until they are established. This is true for sod, trees, and shrubs. That newly planted landcape plant was used to being in a container, receiving a regulated amount of water at about the same time every day and now it is free in the world, it is like a new born. It will need tender loving care, midnight feedings and frequent diaper changes. No, just kidding, plants are really much easier than newborns, you just have to learn to speak their language, which can be a bit tricky since they don't scream and cry when they need attention.Now, when it comes to growing plants in containers, it is slightly different.
Many of the 'how to' websites and articles out there offer some generic advice that may or may not be appropriate for your situation, so I will try to clarify for you and make understanding your new plants a little easier. There is usually a general guideline that goes something like this, "This plant needs one inch of water per week". Let's break this down and see exactly why we call this a guideline.
You have your favorite plant, it doesn't matter what it is for this example, it has a tag or you have read that it requires one inch of water per week. Okay, that is our guideline. What if, for example, this plant is in a very sandy soil? Water drains exceptionally well in sand, because it has little to no water holding capabilities. That one inch of water will be gone in hours, this poor plant will be very thirsty 3-4 days later.
Let's consider another scenario. Your precious baby(oh sorry, I mean plant) is planted in a very heavy peat based soil. Peat holds water very well. That one inch of water may still be around in a week. Then you water again. It continues to build up until the plant literally drowns. Soil type is very important in determining frequency and amount of water.
What about the pot
itself? A terracotta or clay pot is very pretty. They are nice and heavy and help to stabilize the plant, unfortunately, that clay or terracotta actually wicks the water away from the soil. So here again, one inch of water will be gone in a shorter period of time than one week. Plastic pots and thick fired pottery tend to retain the water better. You guessed it, one inch of water per week might be too much.
There are numerous other things that need to be taken into consideration. The type of plant is a very big consideration. A Cactus will need MUCH less water than a Philodendron. I know, the Cactus label does not read one inch of water per week, but I have actually met someone that watered theirs every other day, their thinking...it's a plant and it needs water. Of course, there was also the case of a woman that literally...I can't make this stuff up...watered her large Cactus one tablespoon of water every 6 months and wondered why it was looking poorly! The size of the container is another consideration when determining the amount of water needed. I bet you can guess which will need more water in full sun, a four inch pot or something the size of a trash can?
How about the weather? Would you think a plant enjoying a week of cloudy, overcast, cool weather will require more water or less water than if they were enjoying 95 degrees, a cloudless sky, and a brisk enough wind to dry the sweat? Container planting or landscape planting will also require different amounts of water depending on the weather.
Hopefully this has given you some food for thought to try and decipher what your plants are communicating to you.
What is that you say? How do you know if you are over-water or under-watering? EXCELLENT question! Sometimes when plants start to show symptoms of stress, i.e. wilting, the first reaction is to water, but sometimes over-watering can be just as detrimental to a plant's health as under-watering. Symptoms of both over and under-watering can look very similar. Leaves turn brown and wilt. Often times, when this happens to under-watered plants, th
ose dead leaves will be dry and crispy. While with over-watering, those leaves may still be soft and limp. Here is a test: Is this from over-watering or under-watering? Tough to tell huh?
With under-watering the plant tries to conserve what little water it has by keeping the stalk green and the roots moist, but the leaves will turn yellow and wilt and eventually dry up. With over-watering, plants need to breath. They breath through their roots and when there is too much water, the roots cannot take in gases. It is actually slowly suffocating. Both over and under-watering can lead to other things, such as stunted growth, and lack of fruit or flowers. Many people like to use a water meter on their plants. If you are not familiar with these, it is usually a probe that you stick in the soil and it will tell you whether you need to water or not. One of the types looks like this:
I haven't had much luck with them. I tried one once, I stuck it into a pot of extremely dry soil, I knew it was very dry because it fell out in one piece and was very light. The meter said it was fine, do not water! Oops! You actually have a very reliable water meter with you right now. Scientifically you know it as "the index finger". Stick that scientific device into the soil, about 1-2 inches....if it feels dry, water...if it is damp, don't and check again tomorrow. Pretty cool huh?! For smaller plants there is another method. Water the plant very well, make sure there is water coming out of the drainage holes. Then, lift the pot up. Get that weight in your head. After a couple of days, lift the pot again. If it feels much lighter than the day that you watered, then go ahead and water again, if it still feels heavy, check back in a couple of days. I have been known to use both methods, I will stick my finger in a pot, then lift it. I have mastered the use of the scientific device of the 'index finger'!
Hopefully, this has shed some droplets on the subject of watering. If you MUST err one way or the other, do so on the under-watering side. Many plants are much more drought tolerant than we think and will recover from too little water. There are not many that will come back from a dip into the deep end of a pool, unable to swim, with no life preserver!
Hidden Ponds Nursery
4863 Highway 17 N (next to SeeWee Outpost)