by Charlene Burgi
Moving plants and plant propagation can be tricky. But it can also be fun to expand the growth of our garden or share our plants with other gardeners who admired the beauty bestowed by the blossoms behind our garden gate.
There is an ideal time to get the best results when transplanting and dividing our plants. For many plants, it doesn’t make sense to dig them up and move them during summer when there is a chance of removing their feeder roots. This is the time that they require the maximum amount of water. Digging around the roots right now could potentially cut off their water supply, resulting in disaster. Winter is a much better time to transplant rooted shrubs, trees and most perennials, enabling feeder roots to grow before summer heat.
On the other hand, some plants, such as Dutch iris, can be moved and propagated several weeks after they bloom. Thus it will soon be time to separate the crowded clumps of rhizomes. Use two garden forks to separate the mass. Throw away soft or damaged rhizomes and share the wealth of the multiplied plants with those who admired the iris when in bloom. The rhizomes can rest a few weeks before going back into the soil. Just keep them covered and in the shade.
Zonal geraniums are easy to propagate and can be done anytime of the year. Ask your neighbor if you can break off a stem that has about four leaves. Snip the stem just above a leaf on the main plant. When you get home, strip off any flower buds and the bottom two leaves. Plant the stripped part of the stem directly into a loose planting medium. The part of the stem that hosted the leaves you removed will form new roots. Keep the plant moist, but not wet. Within months, you will have a new plant for the garden.
Books have been written about various methods and timing for propagation and transplanting. I have taken the liberty to whet your appetite to learn more about this process, but I have also used this subject to transition into some personal news I would like to share with you.
There are times when it is more than just plants that need to move in order to thrive and grow. As difficult as it is for me to believe, this year I reached the golden age of retirement. What does that look like for me? And how does my retirement affect you?
First, the easy answer —what does that look like for me. A few weeks ago, I spoke of the ranchers in the high country talking about the changing weather. Those ranchers will soon be our neighbors. My husband and I built our dream home in the middle of ranch land in Lassen County. Our five donkeys will have 160 acres to explore; Sydney, our golden retriever, can trot down to the spring-fed pond to swim; Kiki the kitty will need to make friends with our barn cat, Little Boy; and Cash, our handsome quarter horse, can move home instead of staying at the ranch next to us. As I said, timing is everything—we need to get those donkeys moved up to Lassen before fall so they can get their winter coats before snow falls. Potted plants need to be planted in the ground and grow deeper roots in order to thrive before the temperatures plummet to sub-zero.
How does my retirement affect you? Hopefully, my transplant will not cause too much of a shock. This may be the last week I will be sitting at my desk at MMWD writing these blogs, but (the good news for me) the district extended the opportunity for me to continue writing the weekly blogs to MMWD from my desk in Lassen. I can share more information as I learn about:
- plants that thrive in adverse conditions;
- what I am doing about deer and rabbits eating the garden; and
- growing water conserving plants in dry country.
So, while I am packing up boxes and preparing for the move, know that you are, in part, making a virtual move with me. It is my hope that we can continue to share ideas and communicate through the comment section of the blog. Personal questions or information can be transmitted through Ann Dickinson, who will forward the messages to me so I can get back to you. I have enjoyed sharing this time with you and look forward to continuing along the garden path with you.
Until then, have a great weekend.