Before You Plant

These steps apply to all large plants:

  • Choose a plant fits the site.
  • Look up! Determine if the mature plant will interfere with power/phone lines or anything else overhead.
  • Locate wiring, pipes or utilities before digging by calling Sunshine State One Call at telephone number #811.
  • Handle plants carefully by grasping the container, NOT the branches or trunks.
  • Prune out any broken branches and remove any tags on the plant.
  • Dig a wide (at least 50% larger than the root ball), shallow hole for your new plant. PLANT THE ROOT BALL approximately 10% ABOVE GRADE. Place the dirt from the hole around the rootball, NOT on top of the new planting.

If plantings are made during the dry months or at sites without irrigation, it may be advantageous to create a soil “dam” around your new plant that can hold water. Once the plant is established or the rainy season arrives, the dam should be raked away so water will slope away from the new plant.

It is NOT necessary to pull the roots away from the rootball before planting. Disturbing the roots can cause stress to the plant and defoliate or even kill the new plant. If a plant is rootbound, make several shallow vertical cuts on the sides of the rootball before planting. Significantly rootbound plants may not attain optimal growth. We strive to carry only “fresh” plants recently acquired from the grower.

New plantings will need to be treated with care and attention. We recommend that these plants should be watered daily for the first month; every other day for the next thirty days; and every third day going forward. Plants should be carefully monitored during the first year to make sure that they are not stressed by lack of water as they become established. Establishment may take several months depending on the kind of plant and environmental conditions. ALL plants will need regular fertilization. 

A layer of mulch two to three inches over the root ball will help retard weed growth and retain moisture, particularly during the dry months. DO NOT PACK MULCH UP TO THE PLANT STEMS OR TRUNKS TO AVOID ROOT ROT. Mulch breaks down over an extended period of time to assist in bringing additional nutrients to the top soil.

Southwest Florida soils tend to be somewhat alkaline and many plants require more acidity for optimal health and growth. Some of these acid loving plants include the Magnolia, Ixora, Gardenia, Hibiscus, Rose, Azalea and Cordylines. Pine straw brings some additional acidity to the soil and can act in a limited way to retard weed growth.

Our soils usually lack nutrients necessary for lush, healthy plants. Plants will need a good CONTROL RELEASE fertilizer formulated for South Florida soil conditions. We recommend a high quality fertilizer such as Nurseryman’s Sure-Gro 12-4-12 or 8-2-12 palm fertilizer that can be used on ALL plants, including palms, edibles, trees, shrubs, and bedding plants. This fertilizer breaks down slowly and will last 90 to 120 days.  It contains all of the elements and micro-elements needed for optimal plant growth, and will also act to acidify the soil.  Lower quality fertilizers can break down quickly with our high soil temperatures and heavy rains, leeching into our groundwater and providing little benefit to the plants or our environment. Good control release fertilizers should be applied at intervals recommended by the manufacturer.

To download a PDF of this information click here.

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