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Mr. Smarty Plants - Planting from pots in summer in Austin

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Wednesday - July 01, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Transplants, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Planting from pots in summer in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

It's the last week in June and temperatures are going to be at 100 or more all week. I've some plants that I'm wondering about transplanting to an exposed site in this heat: muhlenbergeria lindheimeriana (one gallon)and cassia lindheimeriana (4 in"), and several 4" pots of Mexican wire grass. Should I wait for a break (back down into the 90s?)or a few cloudy days? Once they have a couple days break, they will still have to contend with months more of sun, heat and water from the hose. I remembering reading or hearing that, beyond the problems of heat stress, too much moisture in this heat can be detrimental to unestablished plants that normally take a lot of heat in dry weather. In order to establish these plants, I'll be watering in the evenings. Do I have any options, or do I wait until mid September?

ANSWER:

We feel your pain, we garden in Austin, too. Our first impulse was to say: One word - WAIT! Then, we looked at your question more closely and realized you were not talking about moving plants from one garden spot (in the dirt) to another; you had the plants still in (probably) black plastic nursery containers. We hope you are keeping them in shaded conditions and watering regularly because, if not, the roots are probably already fried. Our suggestion is that you slather some mosquito repellant on yourself and plant those in the evening, after the sun has gone down. Make sure the soil is already prepared for good drainage and easy adaptation by the roots. Working some compost into the soil before you ever put the plant in there is a very good idea. This will help with drainage, make trace elements available to the plant roots and, in general, be gentle with those roots. On your evening planting expedition, get the plants into the soil as quickly as possible, and then water very gently by sticking a hose deep down in that nice compost and letting it dribble very slowly. If there is still daylight, or the next morning, cover the root areas with a good quality shredded hardwood mulch. This will keep the sun off those baby roots, cool the ground, and help to hold in moisture. Continue to water very gently (no overhead) every other morning or so (to help prevent mildew) and don't fertilize. Any plant being transplanted right now is a plant in stress, and stressed plants don't need fertilizer.


Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

Senna lindheimeriana

Nassella tenuissima

 

 

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