The Root of the Story

Appearances can be deceiving, especially when working with plants. It’s easy to assume that because you water the same day and same amount to every plant, that this is the proper way to water your plants. But you don’t know is what’s going on below the surface. The root structure of the plants is the first thing that affects the overall health and vigor of a plant

.tolumnia pink panther roots

So, with the root system being so important, what should you look for in a healthy root system of a potted plant? One of the most important factors to look for is nice thick white roots. These roots should go all the way down to the base of the pot, not just at the surface. If they’re only staying at the surface then chances are there is a water issue with the plant. The other thing that you want to look for a nice little running routes throughout the ball of the plant. These are the little feeder roots that are going to suck up nutrients and water. The thicker roots are there for anchorage and support, as well as intake of nutrients. What you should not see a brown mushy routes. This could be an indication of too much water or possible fungus and rotting.

rot root

Going back to the top of the plant; the overall appearance can look fine for weeks on end, but if there’s a root problem you’re not going see it until it’s almost too late to overcome.


So we get back to appearances; don’t assume because a plant has leaves that are wilting that it needs water. My best advice is to actually get in there and feel the soil. Use your finger, use a plant auger, use a moisture meter if you have to, but check the soil. With all three of those items, check the soil in more than one spot. You might have just watered on one side of the plant consistently, so one-sided the plant is showing problems. Also, be sure to follow any directions that are given to you read regarding the application of fertilizer; too much or too little is not going to help your plant. As a matter fact too much can easily burn the roots and cause problems in the growth of the plant.

So appearances can be deceiving-you need to know what’s going on down below the foliage area and in that root ball. Once you know how the roots are growing, you will have a better idea of how to take care of your plants needs.


Little Samples, Big Convience

Samples are a great thing.


You can get samples for food, to see if you like it, samples of new book, samples of beer to see which type of homemade brew you might like. There are samples of paper to see what is going to look best with your letterhead on it. And, of course, you can get paint samples to pick the right color for your rooms. These are just a few of the many types of samples that are available for consumers to make their life a little bit easier. But have you ever thought of using samples for the garden center? When you’re trying to match colors of plants there’s no reason why you can’t take a cutting of the leaves to make sure the flowers are going to blend together. Or, take a flower sample in with you to try and coordinate a grouping of colors and make sure that they all blend easily.


Then there’s hard-scapes; what about the rocks you’re going to use in that edging? Is it the right color to blend in with your pots? Is the mulch the exact same kind that you use last year? If you’re just trying to freshen up the beds, you may not want to completely redo your mulch; so it’s important to get the right kind. It doesn’t hurt to take a sample of soils either. Some plants like a nice loose soil, while others would prefer to have a soil mix that is a little bit sandy for a quick drainage. Taking a sample of the soil that you’re going to plant in can sometimes help the grower help you pick the best mixture to go with your selection of. plant materials.

Even something as simple as taking in a sample of the cushions that you have on your lawn furniture can help you with your decisions on plant colors and plant shapes. If your cushion has a lot of reds and yellows into it you may want to use something like a Croton which also has a lot of reds and yellows. You might want to try to mirror the shape of the leaf in the pillowcase with real plants, for instance a bird of paradise leaf.


Samples can also be done with the camera. You may have a large pot that you’re trying to match but caring a 32 inch pot into the garden center just isn’t going to do it, so take a picture. Cameras have come so far in the past years that the picture on your phone will be a pretty close example of what you’re using. You can then take that picture of your pot and hold it right up next to the item you’re thinking of purchasing. If the colors match, that’s great! If they don’t, you can easily move onto the next selection.

And one final sample that you may not even think about because it’s not something you can physically holding your hand death of the sample of what your lifestyle is like. Are you somebody that wants to just relax around the yard? Then you’re going to be looking for more shade producing plants and comfy lounge chair. However if you’re an active person your lifestyle might demand a more open area where you can have a volleyball net put up or a big garden area to work in.


So, keep the mental samples in mind, as well as the physical samples when you’re choosing the accents for your gardening life.

Remember, let those small samples help you get a large amount of enjoyment out of your garden!

Rain; Good or Bad?


Rain is a good thing? Is it a bad thing?

There’s a country song out there that says Rain is a good thing; rain makes corn, corn makes whiskey. That’s one way to look at it, but from the landscaping point of view rain also be a bad thing if there’s too much of it and all at once.

Too much rain can play havoc not only with your plant’s growth but in your planting schedule (there’s nothing worse than sitting in a car with the rain beating down on the roof, waiting to get out there and get some work done). A day wasted is a day of no growth.

More seriously than just lost time and money is that too much rain can damage your crops, your landscaping and your favorite potted plants. Too much rain can be damaging to the plants foliage, rot roots and cause stagnant soil that will need to be replaced. Of course you can’t do anything to stop the rain, but there are preventative measures that you can take to help your plants along; at least your potted plants.

water in saucers     =    mosquito

First and foremost make sure your plants are not sitting in standing water. Remove saucers from underneath plants, turn them upside down they don’t hold water. Turnover empty pots that do not have the drain holes so that they don’t hold water. If you’re not using your garbage cans or containers, turn them upside down until you need them. This will not only help keep the smell of stagnant water away from your living area, but it will also help deter production of mosquitoes.

Even though there are some items in the landscaping items that need to hold water (examples are birdbath the small fountains) the last thing that you want is to have them holding stagnant water. So periodically empty the old water and put in fresh.


But don’t be discouraged by the weather, and don’t let all that rainwater go to waste. Collections of rain in a proper rain barrel attach it to your gutters gives you access to bring water for times of drought. This rain water will be collected in a safe place that is sealed and closed and so the mosquitoes can get in there and breed. Then, when you need the water, you have a safe supply to water your plants with.

Don’t let the rain get you down take the opportunity for rainy days to do something extra special that you normally wouldn’t do. Go visit a museum, go shopping with a friend, maybe catch that movie that you wanted to see. Or, if you’re a really serious gardener, now is the perfect time to sit down the dining table with a piece of paper and layout your plans for your next garden. The next season is never far off, and soon you’ll be itching to get your hands in that dirt and start planting again.


And don’t be discourage if you have to replace some plants that didn’t care for the extra moisture. Who knows, you might find something you like even better the second time around. Be creative be willing to explore and most of all be willing to follow God’s lead and enjoy all the nature that surrounds, you regardless of the weather conditions.

So, Rain IS a good thing!