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RE: What makes the difference?

  • Subject: RE: What makes the difference?
  • From: "Margaret Streckenbach" <margarets@westside.com>
  • Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2001 11:29:10 -0700
  • Importance: Normal

That is one of the main reasons why I buy younger plants, if their price is
reflected by their age.  I like seeing it go through its childhood and
teenage years.  There really is a sense of pride felt when looking at a well
grown mature plant that you have grown from infancy.

I must also add, that the main reason for buying smaller plants is the fact
that I have a very small yard.  So, having the young immature plants allows
me to feed my addiction more.  I am planning to move to where I have some
more space in the next few years.

Thanks for your input on the growth rate of younger plants.  That makes
complete sense.  I have been growing Orchids from TC for a decade or so, and
they behave the same way, it is funny how I take up a new plant, and for
some reason think I need to start from scratch again. I have a feeling that
it may have something to do with my need for making things more difficult
than they really are.

Everyone's input has been helpful to me.  I hope Alttara has had her
question answered also.  I seem to have hijacked her post.


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-hosta-open@mallorn.com
[mailto:owner-hosta-open@mallorn.com]On Behalf Of halinar@open.org
Sent: Thursday, September 06, 2001 8:52 AM
To: hosta-open@mallorn.com
Subject: Re: What makes the difference?


>but frankly I disagree with Joe.  I'd rather have the big, beat up
>plant than the small pretty one.

I'll also take the big plant if the price is the same as for a small
plant.  Given the choice of buying a large hosta for $20 and a smaller
sized one of the same variety for $5, I'll take the smaller one and
with the $15 I saved I'll buy three other smaller plants for $5.  Then
in two years time I'll have four nice large hostas rather then one
nice large hosta.  To me watching the plant grow and mature is just as
enjoyable as the instant satisfaction of buying the larger plant.  For
example, many years ago my neighbor had some small maple trees planted
out in a wooded area where they just weren't going to do anything.  I
dug one of them up and planted it next to his deck and now it is a
large shade tree that greatly enhances the yard.  Everytime I go over
and visit I can look at that tree and remember what it looked like
when it was just a small tree.  There is a certain amount of
satisfaction that comes from watching something grow that you don't
get when you go the instant satisfaction route.  It's the same reason
some people prefer to plant seeds of a particular plant instead of
buying a potted plant.


>I like soil with a ton of peat moss and cow manure that has been
>mixed in really well.  I have also heard that spreading the roots out
>helps and that you should unsnarl the roots if necessary.

There use to be an old theory in horticulture that when you planted
trees you should dig out a nice deep and wide hole and then fill it up
with a well amended soil mix.  Well, there is something called boundry
dynamics that isn't well understood, but has a significent effect on
how plants grow.  Basically, roots don't like to cross well defined
boundaries.  If you plant a tree in that hole with the well ammended
soil mix and come by a few years later you will find that most of the
roots are still within that original hole, and if you don't unsnarl
the roots it's almost guaranteed that the rootsd will be in that
original hole.  Another neighbor of mine had planted some juniper
trees that he bought in one gallon containers.  Well, he just dug a
small enough hole and put the junipers directly into the hole with out
doing anything to the roots.  About five years later he noticed that
they weren't growing and asked me to check them out.  Well, I pulled
up on one of them and the whole thing came right up and the root ball
was still the same size as it was 5 years earlier when it was in a
pot.  Everyone of those plants could have been pulled up and put back
into a one gallon pot with no effort.

If you look at hostas that have been potted up, especially large sized
hostas in small pots, you see the same tangled roots as you get in
potted trees.  This summer I bought a one gallon pot of Elvis Lives
that had about 7 fans total.  I recently unpotted it and I could have
used it as a hockey puck!  Gardeners who don't know better might just
drop it into a hole just like that and then wonder why the plant isn't
growing well or increasing.  The roots will continue to grow in a
tight circle even if they are planted in the ground.  It's very
important to untangle those roots.  Spreading out the roots will help
with anchoring the plant, but spreading them out isn't quite as
critical as just getting them untangled.

As to mixing in a large amount of peat moss or other organic matter,
don't just mix in the organic matter in the hole where you are going
to plant the hosta, and make sure there are no sharp boundries for the
roots to cross.  A number of years ago Charlie Purtymun laid down a
thick layer of organic mulch on the area next to part of his driveway
where he planted some hostas.  The hostas grew quite well for awhile
and then didn't do as well.  Well, what happened is that at first they
did well in the organic layer, but as summer came along the organic
layer dried out and the roots never crossed the boundry into the heavy
clay below the organic layer.  One little tug and the plants came
right up.  If you put down a thick layer of mulch before planting, it
is important to make sure you dig it up a little to break up that soil
- organic layer boundry.

Joe Halinar

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