Fertilizing the natives

florrie2March 29, 2008

Hello all: I've made some cuttings/transplants of native plants from my woods. The plan is to grow these plants closer to my house so I can enjoy them. I have Clethra, False Solomon's Seal, Maple Leaf Viburnum and native Mountain Laurels. My questions is: even though natives are tough as nails, do I need to fertilize or otherwise care for these little plants? I've got them protected by chicken wire to keep the dogs off, but what else should I do?

Thanks, Florrie

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Nothing more than a little compost or compost tea would be required. Feed the soil and it will feed the plant.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 1:55PM
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ahughes798(z5 IL)

I think other than protecting them from your pooches, you could pretty much leave them alone.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 11:16PM
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If they are planted in conditions roughly equivalent to what they have in the wild they should be o.k. without much help. Keeping out weed competition is more important. Compost, leaf litter, etc. should do the trick as far as nutrition goes.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 9:40AM
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i found out the hard way. fertlize them minimally. i had a large mailbox garden of several native plants, well i layed down some heavy duty fertlizer and way too much of it. needless to say, after the next couple of good rainstorms, they were on there way out. soon almost all of them were dead! so, this year i'm fertlizing hardly at all. well, at least i got a blank canvas to start over again...


    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 2:28PM
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Sometimes soil "nearer the house" was a bunch of clay that the contractor dug up and dumped there. If so, adding a bunch of compost and working it in around the plants would be good. If it's average garden soil with regular moisture, though, what everybody says above is right.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 3:10PM
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ladyslppr(z6 PA)

I wouldn't fertilize, but I would consider amending the soil, especially if, as davidl_ny5 says, the soil is poor. You really can't add too much leaf mold to a soil that is intended to grow woodland plants, provided you can mix the leaf mold in with the mineral soil. If you don't have leaf mold- rotted leaves - you might check around with your town, township, or whatever local gov't collects the leaves in the fall. In most places there is either a program to compost the leaves and distribute them to gardeners, or perhaps just a place where leaves are dumped. In either case, you can probably get permission to collect rotted leaves for your garden. If you can get them work a foot of rotted leaves into the top foor of soil, then add another 6 inches on top and don't mix. If you can't manage this much, use a lesser amount. In either case, I think there is no substitute for rotted leaves when preparing a soil for woodland plants.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 10:28AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

I tend to concur with ladyslipper and davidl, Because they are woodland plants and you've moved them near the house, I would topdress the soil with compost and leaf litter. I like to keep my woodland natives mulched with shredded leaves.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 10:37AM
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