Still not too late to plant; be choosy what you purchase

Gardening and the garden industry is very dependent on the weather.

Gardening and the garden industry is very dependent on the weather.

Plants sell very fast in years where the spring is warm and dry. After a long winter people are ready to spend time outdoors which leads to people doing yard work. During cold springs people are reluctant to make purchases as they do not want to go out in the cold to dig plants into the ground. This year was the later, cold and wet but it doesn’t mean that there isn’t still time to plant.

Plants are still available but be choosy what you purchase. Hanging baskets and pots were planted to last a season. If the pot still look good in the store it should continue to look attractive in your garden as long as it receives the proper care.

Trees and shrubs that are in pots can be planted anytime. Just be sure that they are watered regularly.

Potted perennials can be transplanted all summer but do not expect them to put on a wonderful show. The plants will spend most of their energy putting down roots and becoming established. Plants that have lived in a small pot for a long period should have a substantial root system. If the roots hold the complete root ball intact when it is removed from the pot it is considered rootbound.

Rootbound plants will not thrive unless their roots are disturbed.

This can be one by using a sharp knife an cutting a large X in the bottom of the roots or by tearing the roots enough to ensure they will grow into the surrounding soil. Either way, the plants roots are disturbed and it will take the plant time to recover and become established.

Take care when purchasing bedding-out-plants and annuals. Know that they will have a life expectancy of approximately two months and pay accordingly. If frost hardy plants are chosen it could stretch into three months. Petunias, asters, snapdragons can flower past light frosts while marigolds and portulaca will freeze instantly.

Take into account the condition of the plant and the size of container that it is growing in. Plants that were seeded late and look like they could burst into bloom are great purchases. These plants will transplant well and look great in the garden.

Other bedding-out-plants will have been planted into large containers.

The roots will still be growing outwards and not be rootbound. These plants can be transplanted directly into the garden with little if any setback.

Plants that are tall, spindly, and or flopping over will not fair well. While they might provide colour in the garden they will not be attractive. Chances are that they will stay the same size and shape for the duration of the season. When the plants are removed from their pot the roots will form the shape of the pot. Like perennials, the roots will need to be disturbed which will guarantee that the plant will grow in the future but by that time it will be fall.

It is still possible to plant or add to the garden at this time of year but be careful with your purchases. Look for healthy plants in large containers. Some plants might be great deals but others will be a disappointment; a waste of time and money.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist and educator living in Rocky Mountain House. You can contact her at