Another Ceanothus question

gobluedjmMay 29, 2010

Below is a pic of my Concha's. They were put in Sept 2008.

They do flower but mostly just lose leaves. The wall is west facing they get sun from about 10 am to 4 pm then blocked and in winter not much sun at all maybe 2 hours around noon. I have shut the sprinkler zone off now but I am wondering if maybe not established enough and I should continue until winter. After about 2 months in the ground and until last week they got 15 minutes from the sprinkler system once a week. I try and keep the mulch away from the main step but the wind just blows it around.

Anybody have any suggestions to improve vitality and to promote growth. If I cut back after flowering will that help or what should I do?

All my other ceanothus are doing fabulous but they get more sun.

Thank you!

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gardenguru1950(SunsetZ16)

Here's some off-the-top thoughts:

1. Too much water.

2. Not enough sun.

3. That mulch at the stem bases is deadly.

4. Don't water during summer.

5. Don't cut back after flowering.

6. Don't cut back at all until they mature and you need to keep them "neat".

Joe

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 3:21PM
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gobluedjm

Joe, they are very dry and crispy. I know only to water the first year or sometimes 2, I'm just wondering if not established enough to be cut off water, yet they flowered.
I'm not sure if its them or me that is confused ;).
Some of them are have a bit of silver color on the branches.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 4:06PM
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gobluedjm

Here is a few close-up pics.
Notice the brown dry leaves and the white/silver on branches.
Today is 3 weeks since last watering and no change since then.
This is the front walkway so the mulch just makes things look better but I guess I can remove if I have to.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 4:42PM
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gardenguru1950(SunsetZ16)

They've been through a perfect winter season to get them established.

Mulching isn't helping in this case and, in fact, it might be your key hinderance. The mulch itself is possibly keeping the soil too moist (by the way, too much water can lead to symptoms almost identical to too little water, including that "crispiness"). And with the mulch continually up against the base of the stems, you will end up with rotting stems.

Testing the soil now would only give you a snapshot of what's going on -- that is, it will tell you if you've watered recently. What you needed to know was whether or not the young plants actually dried out well between waterings of the past. Almost all natives like the oxygenation they'd get from the soil surface drying out.

And I might as well ask: how often do you water and for how long each time?

I'm still leaning toward rotting main stem bases. They have that "look".

Joe

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 4:55PM
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gobluedjm

When the sprinklers were running it was 15 minutes once a week and in winter only if not enough rain.
I did occaisionally check the soil the first summer and definately the top was dry and hard after a few days...but 3 inches down don't really know of course.
The soil is rock hard like granite now.
When planting it was raining and I did turn in a little gypsum in surrounding soil but its just hard clay now.

I will remove the mulch then won't have to clean it up every windy day.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 5:11PM
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gardenguru1950(SunsetZ16)

I like 15 minutes once a week and none if it's raining.

Concha is one of the most clay-soil-tolerant Ceanothus.

Gypsum doesn't do a thing for clay soil. It works on alkali soils (not "alkaline") by subbing out ions.

Check your soil deeply (with a probe) to see if the clay is holding water down below.

Joe

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 6:34PM
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gobluedjm

Well I'm probably gonna lose a couple of them...bummer.
I should have checked sooner I was just sure I wasn't overwatering.
Removed mulch around base so I can rake up if the wind ever stops.
There are 2 that the stems move very easily just by bumping a branch.
I did probe them and it comes out bone dry 8 inches deep but seems to be air pockets or very loose soil...especially on the 2...hence rootball rot/collapse.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 6:58PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Your plants look so bad I would expect more than one problem with the culture. Certainly if you make all the moves Joe has suggested, it will help. And I second the use of a soil probe to look at the next soil horizon. Planted between too large masses of concrete, I can only guess at what a lab soil test might tell you. Ceanothus require a well drained soil and I suspect you have a case of compacted soil that will require a sledgehammer to use a soil probe. Al

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 9:26AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Dang. I can imagine how beautiful it would have been had they done better there.
Renee

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 3:57PM
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gobluedjm

I have removed all the mulch now.
There are 3 Yankee Point closer to house and little bit less sun and they are doing fine. One even flowered and all have grown.
I did a nutrient soil test since I had a test kit (it's kinda old) and ph was slightly acid at 6.5.
N - surplus
K - depleted
P - deficient
I have never fertilized the area at all.
Sprinklers off 3 weeks ago and will remain off, can't do much about the sun so time will tell if any improve.
Can't plant anything new right now anyway so will give them a chance.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 5:36PM
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