Did I screw up when planting?

madeyna(7/8)April 9, 2013

I planted out thirty or so hydrangeas that have been in pots for many years. None seemed root bound which seems kind of shocking since some of them have been potted at leat 15 years. The problem I ran into is a few of them (about a third )came out of the pot with only the top half of the dirt attached. I didn,t see any roots in the dirt left in the pot but give that they were potted so long how I don,t see how they could not have had roots all the way to the bottom. They have not leafed out yet and I,m in the pacific northwest so they are really wet all the time I don,t know if they helped them not develop deep roots or if I just broke off most of the roots and just couldn,t see them. I put some aged horse manure in the holes should I be doing anything else to stimulate root growth or did I just kill them?

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You more than likely saved their lives!! Potting soils just don't hold up long enough to support a plant for 15 years without attention. The soils collapse and compact and combined with our winter moisture, this causes roots to rot away. I hope what roots were left are white and firm.

Growing plants in containers requires constant attention with respect to maintaining/refreshing the soil, root pruning, fertilzing and watering. Also winter protection where appropriate. Unless you are able to give this specialized care, it is always a better idea to plant in the ground. You can get by with a season or two as a container plant without too much effort but anything longer is pushing it!

Horse manure would not be my first choice but as long as it is well aged you should be OK. I would also recommend a starter fertilizer intended to stimulate root production or a similar type of root booster product.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 2:05PM
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Should I wait to fert. until they leaf out? Now you have me wondering if the roots did rot away. With our near nonstop rain the last few years I could see that happening. I usually put them under the house every year for winter protection but didn,t this winter. I,m not expecting any blooms but it sure would be nice if they all live. As for the horse manure its what I have been using my entire adult life because I have horses . It hasn,t killed anything yet but then again I only used it after its been in the manure pile for at least a year then mix it with dirt as well.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 4:50PM
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