What to do, what to do??

hostalisaAugust 16, 2013

I am going for it!!

I Must admit I have been a "creeper" reading this wonderfully active hosta forum literally daily for The last three summers. I have gained more information that I could ever thank you all for.

I have noticed that several people say they remove all the potting soil from newly purchased plants before they plant them.

What are the main advantages of this? I do spread out the roots but try to leave most of the soil they have been growing in. I usually even mix the stuff that falls out of the pot right into the garden soil surrounding the plant.

Should I be disregarding this soil altogether?

When I get the image thing figured out I will post my multiple central Wisconsin Great Expectations that will make you gasp!

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I have read those posts too and wondered why. I do the same thing. I pull out my plant, loosen the roots (if necessary) and put the potting media right into the ground. Cant say that I've ever noticed any negative effects from it. Even if I've been given a division from a friend, I don't rinse off the soil either, just plant it right into the ground.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 7:50AM
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josephines123 z5 ON Canada

Pleeeeeasssee, HURRY! Lol. Need any help? We have wonderful tutors among us...

WELCOME TO THE FORUM, Hostalisa!!! :-) :-) :-) Glad you decided to "creep" in...three months you say? I didn't last that long..lol.

As you may have noticed in reading our posts, we devour hosta photos...can never have enough. Hope to hear from you often and look forward to getting to know you and your hosta, starting with your GE.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 7:55AM
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Wellcome. I don't remember those posts so I hope someone who does replies. I try not to break any roots. I do remove loose soil but don't bare root them unless I think there is a problem with the roots. Most of the growers I buy from use very loose soil and it just falls away easily. Like you say, divisions from friends, if its good soil, I just plant in the gound. BTW It's a drainage thing. Water will move through soil that is of equal density and consistant texture more easily. So divisions I receive with heavy clay (my soil is clay loam) I will try to bare root first.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 8:07AM
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josephines123 z5 ON Canada

I didn't answer your question..had to hurry...sorry...

re your Q...some may do this as a precautionary measure and the explanations will come forward. I didnt generally disturb my new hosta except for the occasional loosening of roots in a root bound plant, before I plant it.

I must have been influenced tho', because I find I am "cleansing" more and more. My favourite habit is washing/watering it with the ammonia solution (1/10 ratio of ammonia and water, respectively) just in case...you don't know how long it's been sitting around at source...hate slugs and their eggs! Ugh

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 8:11AM
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bernd ny zone5

I plant them with the soil on in amended soil after I teased the roots open.
Though advantages of rinsing off all soil they came with are
- any disease and bugs in the soil they came with are removed,
- you can inspect the roots for damage and disease, possibly see/smell rot, cut off bad roots, and spread out the roots.
- in the case you have very good soil in the pot and bad soil in the planting hole, by rinsing the roots you will not let the roots stay in the good soil forever and not bother to go into the surrounding bad soil.
(you should always amend soil to plant in with a lot of humus!)

The above steps are used in planting dwarf conifers. A lot of landscapers will plop plants from the pots into a hole and after 20 years roots of some bushes and trees are still staying in that same hole.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 8:47AM
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Not sure I should clarify that I have been a creeper for 3 summers which equals 3 full years. Head down.

I assumed it was drainage, seems as though soil quality, especially drainage, and depth of planting are Huge factors in happy hostas.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 8:54AM
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What I do is pull off some soil,and tease out the roots,before planting. Sometimes,you get a newly potted plant,and the potting medium just falls off,and you can see the roots right away,but some are totally root bound,and those,I tease a long time to get the roots free. I never wash off ALL the potting medium. And BTW,welcome to the forum! Phil

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 10:03AM
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idiothe(4 MN)

I think it would be prudent to gently wash off all the soil - as mentioned, in case there are bugs, worms, slugs, fungus, mold, etc. One of those "I probably should..." things - but I don't.

On the other hand - if it comes with soil,it is probably greenhouse grown and probably is not even growing in "soil" - typically greenhouses grow in "soilless mix" made up of some combination of bark, peat moss, vermiculite and so on. These are sterile mediums for the most part.

Most greenhouses are pretty careful not to allow bad guys to get into their pots... so I just never worry about this. As others have said, I tease out the roots and mix what fall off into the hole with my soil.

But the discussion is valuable. One of the typical mistakes made by gardeners relatively new to the process is that they avoid disturbing the roots - so they pop the whole root ball/soilless mix ball straight from the pot into the whole and push the soil in around it.

Unless your soil is very very sandy, it is almost certainly much heavier than pot mix. It doesn't have to be clay - black topsoil can be very heavy as well depending on the amount of humus versus mineral particles.

The result can be creating a kind of "pot" space in the soil. The roots, which are probably already growing in a circular pattern, when faced with a hard wall of garden soil versus loose potting mix will be less likely to head out in all directions - and water can accumulate in the mix and it can remain much wetter than the surrounding soil, making it prone to rot.

So I'm not too worried about the potting mix - but I do want the roots spread out to make that gentle pyramid shape that they will eventually achieve in nature.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 11:43AM
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ilovetogrow z9 Jax Florida

Because I like my soil better than what the grower uses. Unless potted in pine fines I toss the rest into the lawn (makes bumps) or garden. I need a fast draining mix. The growers needs something to hold more moisture. Paula

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 3:18PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

It depends. If I am buying plants from NH Hostas I just put them in the ground as is. These plants are usually sold in 4 inch pots and are sold so that they can be planted as is.

If I'm planting one of my seedlings from a cup into a seedling bed, I bare root it first, spread out the roots and put it in prepared soil.

If I'm planting a plant from a local nursery, I check the root system first. If it's root bound with little media in the pot, then I'll loosen all the roots and bare root it if I can. Most nursery plants are root bound because nurseries need the space and don't have the time to up-pot plants when they need it. If, by some chance the plant is not root bound, I just loosen a few of the roots from the pot and plant as is.

You just don't want to put a root bound plant into the ground as it was growing in its pot. The roots will continue to circle the plant and it won't ever have a normally developed root system.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 6:07PM
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Welcome, Hostalisa! Three summers is a long time to lurk, and I'm glad to see you decided to break your cover. Heck, you've been hanging out around here before I came over to this forum, and before DonB arrived, you saw both of us explode with a full bore hosta addiction beginning last year.

We'll all be very happy to encourage you. If you have the Great Expectations I think you have, we sure cannot treat you as a "hosta newbie" because that takes skill and good climate to grow that beauty. Look forward to seeing your present hosta garden.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 6:21PM
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Hi, Neighbor! Fellow central Wisconsinite here.

I pretty much do as Idiothe does. Loosen the roots, untwirl them if they're circling, and plant. My soil is sandy so I usually mix some soil moist crystals in the bottom of the hole.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 8:02PM
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Didn't I read on the, ahem, Hosta Forum, that a damaged hosta root won't recover. A new one has to develop. I have avoided unbinding a pot-bound hosta but maybe the benefit of spreading roots out weighs the time it takes to grow new roots. Maybe rough love works...but how can you tell?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 9:36PM
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