Caring for Plants Before Planting
Whether you purchased your plants through mail order or right from the nursery, theyll need some special attention before planting. Most perennials are sold in one of two ways, either growing in containers or bare root.
Container grown plants. The container sizes for potted plants range from just two or three inches across to a foot or more in diameter. Plant container-grown plants as soon as possible after purchase. If you must hold them for a few days or a week, place them in a sheltered spot where theyll be protected from direct sun and wind, and be sure to check them daily, watering as necessary to keep soil moist but not soggy. Remember that the smaller the pot, the quicker it will dry out.
Plants that have been growing in a greenhouse should be gradually acclimated to outdoor conditions. Most container grown plants will be hardened off and ready for planting, but you may want to check with the source.
Bare root plants. If youve ever purchased fruit trees, shrubs, strawberries, or asparagus crowns through the mail, you may have been shocked to open up the package only to find brown, leafless plants. Certain plants, including some perennials, are customarily shipped in bare root form. Though they may look dead, the plants are actually dug from their nursery beds during their dormant phase. The roots are washed and trimmed, and, in most cases, the plants are packed in moist sawdust or peat moss. The plants are then placed in a cooler to keep them from sprouting.
Bare root plants should be planted within a day or two of arrival. As soon as you receive the package, open it up to be sure the packing material is still moist. (Moisten it if its dry.) Re-wrap the package and keep it in a cool place, out of direct sunshine. Before planting, soak the plants roots in a bucket of water for several hours to help them get off to a good start.
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