Newly planted Ceanothus nodding

garrai81June 27, 2013

A week after my 2 Ceanothus (about 1.5 feet tall) were planted, the ends of the growing branches are tipped over, in a half S shape.

They are in a good sunny spot, but they are in soil that is pure clay.

Their holes were filled with an excellent "Garden Blend" mulch/planting mix.

Are they drowning?

There was a fair amount of rain over the last 4 days.


near Portland

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Rainfall in Portland the past week has been just under one inch unless you were in a very localized area with a downpour, not enough to drown a transplant after an otherwise dryish spring.

The planting hole voids should have been filled with soil, or mostly soil with very little mix blended in.

Other transplanting factors are: The size of the planting hole versus the size of the plant pot; how bound up were the roots; how much manual energy was applied to firming the hole fill to the roots, etc.

With hot weather on the way, you may want to shade those plants. Poke around and see if the fill is either dry or mucky.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 11:11PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Surely too dry, if not transplant shock due to root loss, and not too wet. With too wet usually what happens is shrubs go yellow from the bottom up.

A planting hole dug out of damp heavy soil and filled with different, coarser material can become a sump. Since ceanothus demand good drainage the situation you have described may be on the way to failure. Better to pop them out and re-plant in coarser soil dumped on top of the heavy soil, without mixing them together - before the developing heat wave is in full swing. Be sure to mulch after planting, to shade the rooting area, and keep them well watered.

For greatest chance of success with a planting you want to choose plants that are adapted to the site conditions and plant them when cool and moist weather is occurring or on the way. If an intended planting site does not seem quite right for plants you want to have there then you must adequately modify the ENTIRE SITE to conform to the plants' parameters - they will not change themselves (adapt) to site conditions that range outside of their ingrained limits.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 2:06PM
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The planting mix is:
dairy compost
volcanic sand
peat moss
bark fine
chicken manure

I am not sure what to do now, but I will try more watering.

There was a fair amount of water in the last few days, but I will try more.

I will check the dampness of the mix around the plant.

Then we shall see.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 6:44PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

It doesn't matter what the mix consists of at all. Except that if what it is made of makes it significantly more coarse than the soil that was dug out of the hole watering issues are likely.

Possibly fatal ones.

Your best bet is to get these drainage sensitive shrubs out of the planting pits and into a situation where they can be watered heavily during the establishment phase without drowning. This will be especially important during the current highly unfavorable hot weather.

As will be mulching to keep the sun off of the root zones. Hot + wet = rot, something these California climate shrubs are notoriously prone to. If you planted the one sold here as 'Victoria' (it may actually be 'Skylark') that seems to be better adapted than usual, as it has become highly prevalent - but is still a ceanothus.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 9:37PM
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I agree that the planting mix is a problem. Ceanothi will grow like crazy if you give them these nutrients, but will also die in a couple of years. They will live much longer if you allow them to grow in the native nutrient-poor soil and allow their roots to symbiotically associate with the naturally-occurring frankia bacteria. The bacteria give the plant water and minerals. The plant gives the bacteria carbohydrates in return.

I'd suggest digging up the soil amendments, replacing them with the natural soil in your yard, laying down a 3" layer of bark mulch on top, and watering.

Also, ceanothi will die quickly if you water them regularly in the summer. Water them once a month for the first summer and then let them survive on natural rainfall afterwards.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 3:40PM
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