Plants have basic needs which if not met will launch a system wide collapse of all metabolic processes leading to death.  The following are the needs you MUST assure are being supplied at all times.

A well maintained garden will reflect the love and care that you give it – This Plant Specialists garden is giving back some loooove!

Light

Plants produce sugar in direct relationship to the # of photons their leaves receive. We call this number foot candles.  However, the quality of this light, which refers to the various wavelengths of the solar rays that actually strike the leaves is no less important.  ( stay with me here !)

The different designations we use in the industry play with the issues of required vs tolerance.  Some plants REQUIRE the elements of their designation with no exceptions.  Some plants can tolerate deviations from these conditions and are more tolerant of higher or lower parts of the range – they are more adaptive.  Some can even adapt to the conditions of another designated level.

We have grouped the designations of light – FULL SUN, PARTIAL SUN and SHADE.

                FULL SUN require 12-13 hours of light with 6-8 hrs MINIMUM of solar rays striking their leaves.  4000 – 8000 fc.

                PARTIAL SUN  require 12-13 hrs of light with 2-4 hrs. minimum of solar rays striking their leaves. 2000 – 4000 fc.

                SHADE require 12-13 hrs. of light without having solar rays striking their leaves.  1000 – 2000 fc.

                NOTHING survives long term under 1000 fc.

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Water

Water is an essential element of the metabolism of plants including photosynthesis, without it the systems collapse.  Plants need to have water available in the soil for when they need it.  Water molecules cling to particles of soil and occupy the air spaces between these soil particles.

However, the delivery of water is also important because of its effect on soil oxygen levels.  When one waters, the water molecules push the air out of the soil.  Once the water is either used or drains away, the air containing the oxygen return to the air spaces in the soil.  Roots need this oxygen to survive.  When you water too frequently, the air spaces never get replenished with air and the roots die from lack of oxygen.

The time it takes to replenish the air back into the soil will depend on the type of plant, its size, its age, its growing situation, the temperature, the ventilation, season, its blooming cycle , soil compaction, soil texture etc…

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Soil volume

The canopy of a plant grows in direct relation to the amount of new roots it produces.  When the soil volume is totally consumed the root system stops producing new roots.  As a consequence, the canopy stops growing.  In severe stages, this will affect blooming, water absorption, ability to handle the extremes of heat or cold and the ability to ward off diseases and pests. This is commonly referred to as being root bound.

The removal and replacement of soil and roots in the soil mass is the only solution to this problem.  Soil replacements should be scheduled at least yearly and twice yearly for fast growing trees.  It is required for any plant when the soil volume is less than the theoretical maximum for that plant – what we call soil volume deficiency.

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Soil pH

The acidity or alkalinity of the soil refers to the number of free h+ atoms in the soil.  This is directly related to the amount of diluted sulfuric acid in the soil.  This sulfuric acid is the by product of sulfur loving bacteria in the soil which consume the sulfur as an energy source and excrete sulfuric acid.  Wet dark soils have a tendency to be acidic.  Irrigated soils tend to be leached or washed of sulfur and thus become alkaline.

Plants have adapted to soils that contain a lot of sulfuric acid to those that contain none.  It is how we classify them as ACID, NEUTRAL or ALKALINE loving plants.  The acidity or alkalinity of the soil determines which minerals are released and freed into the soil for the plant to uptake.  Minerals ONLY release if the pH is at the appropriate level for that mineral.  It is essential therefore to test the soil at least once a year and determine the pH and thus the proper level of fertilizers for that plant.

These boxwood’s need a different type of care when in pots or planters as soil is leached of nutrients faster and become root bound compared to being planted directly in the ground.

Minerals

Plants require three basic minerals for basic metabolic operations.  Most of our fertilizers provide these.  However, the timely application of fertilizers in relation to the season and species is very important.  Applying fertilizers after the period of uptake is useless.

Because different species require different types of fertilizers or combinations of fertilizers throughout the year, it is best to consult your garden calendar for specifics. Or Speak to your Plant Specialists gardener !

Hope you are having a lovely summer !