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The Transition from Spring to Summer

Category: Garden Resource | Posted by: Mike Riesenberg

How to care for the plants you installed this Spring and what to expect from them as we head into Summer

In the world of gardening, we are at a point of transition. The days of covering plants to protect them from frost/freeze are gone. The spring rush to plant new trees, shrubs and perennials has subsided (though we wish it wouldn’t). Soon enough the mercury will be pushing 90 degrees and the plentiful rainfall will subside.

The transition from spring to summer presents a new challenge for trees, shrubs and perennials that were planted earlier in the year. Namely, this challenge is survival through typically hot and dry weather. The heat, humidity, and lack of rainfall in our Cincinnati summers are stressful for most plants – even more so for new ones.

So what does this mean for the trees, shrubs, and perennials that you planted this Spring? 

If your new plants were installed January, February, March, April or May then here is some good news! A gradual spring warm-up with adequate rainfall has allowed your new plants to settle into their surroundings. Above ground they should look great and healthy. Below ground the roots of these plants have been developing and the plants should be semi-established. In general, supplemental hand-watering is no longer necessary. However, hand-watering will be helpful for these plants if we go through an extended period of hot and dry weather this summer.

If your tree, shrub, or perennial was planted more recently – late May or June – supplemental hand-watering is still needed.

How much and how often is watering necessary? 

There are lots of variables to take into account – original container size, soil type, sunlight, wind, etc. But in general:

  • newly installed perennials originating in quart or gallon containers should be watered every two to five days;
  • shrubs originating in two, three, or five gallon containers should be thoroughly watered every five to seven days;
  • trees originating in five, seven, or ten gallon containers should be thoroughly watered every seven to ten days;
  • trees originating in fifteen gallon containers and greater should be watered thoroughly every ten days to two weeks;
  • trees originating in ball & burlap should be watered thoroughly every ten days to two weeks.

Take note of how your plants looked earlier this year and how they look now. Hopefully they look great and are healthy. Pay attention to how the plant looks as we progress into and through summer. If you notice changes – yellowing leaves, drooping leaves, dropping leaves, crispy leaves, etc. – try to figure out what the issue is before acting on it. 

Can’t figure it out? 

The knowledgeable staff at White Oak Gardens is here to help. Photos and plant samples are helpful.

There is a saying in our industry that I think is mostly true, especially for setting expectations with regards to how newly installed plants will perform. The saying goes – the first year they sleep, the second year they creep, and the third year they leap! A rough interpretation of this saying is that newly installed plants should at the very least maintain their appearance the same year they are installed. The following year, the plant should look better than it did the first – this includes new growth, robust and healthy leaves, and hopefully beautiful flowers. In subsequent years, the plant should razzle and dazzle with good growth, healthy looks and beautiful blooms.

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