Randome Newbie Questions

Fort Dodge, IA

This year I moved several mature plants from an established shaddier garden into my not so established full sun garden. The weather was 20 degrees warmer then typical this time of year, dry and windy. They were not doing so well with the move and on the advice of another gardener I mulched the plants, it worked and they are now thriving. I also went ahead and mulched most the rest of my flower beds, with the exception of the hollyhocks and foxglove as I allow those plants to self seed.

My look is very informal cottage. Lots of natives and old fashioned easy care plants. I like to plant close and let things crowd together, now I'm 2nd guessing myself and am worried the mulch will keep my plants from spreading out. I'm also wondering if instead of mulching I should direct sew seeds into the bed to "fill in" the places between some of the newer perennials that have yet to fill out.

Leave the mulch? Remove it after the plants have become established into their new bed? In the seed beds can I put a layer of leaf litter down in the fall? Will the seeds be able to come up in the spring? I have no idea what I'm doing. LOL

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

To answer any of your questions we need to know what plants you have. Also, what are you mulching with and how deep?

Fort Dodge, IA

The plants I just moved in from the other garden were mostly lilies, iris, sedum, shasta daisy, and phlox. The existing plants were mostly Walker's Low, salvia, veronica, daylilies, eastern corn flower, hollyhocks, and delphinium. New nursery plants are foxglove, Russian sage, bellflower, and balloon flower. That's the big flower beds.

The smaller beds have a couple varieties of joe-pye-weed, hollyhocks, daylilies, sedums....

wood mulch, not very deep as I was afraid of it keeping things from spreading

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I would have used any form of ORGANIC matter like good quality compost or home made compost, wood is better for shrubs etc and depending on what type of wood chips, it can alter the PH of your soil very quickly.

The idea of a mulch Spring time is to allow the soil to retain it's water / moisture from either rain or self watering.
The same mulching in Winter helps preven frost damage to the roots or crown of the perennial as they die down and go into their winter sleep and with a mulch around 2-3 inches deep, it also helps preven the germination of weed seeds.

I personally like to grow my pernnial (seeds) late summer out doors OR early spring indoors, this makes it easier for germination and also easier to spot the seedlings as they pop through as they all look alike at the first stages of growth so difficult for any newer gardener identify between weed seedlings and your own planted type.

All perennial plants like a good rich well broken up soil with added manure / compost / and I like to add also a handfull of blood-fish-bone, you by this (cheap) at garden centers and read the dosage as it will offer you guidlines as too much of any feed is as dangerous for your plants as no feed at all.

All the plants you mentioned like Fox gloves, Lilies, etc will recover from their shock at transplanting from one garden to another but if they are struggling with your heat this soon after being uprooted and moved, I would try rig up a shade area like making a makeshift barrier with a few garden canes and old bed sheet (TENT) to help keep the sun from frazzling the plants and earth around them.
Keep in mind things like Fox Gloves are not really PERENNIALS but are BI-ANUALS meaning they grow from seed one year to form the plant / Greenery, and then flower and die the second year, within the second year you should be able to gather millions of seeds as Fox Glove seeds are like fine grains of sand, when you want to grow them sprinkle on TOP of some DAMP compost, DONT cover these fine seeds and they should germinate within 2-3 weeks, once the seedlings are large enough to handle, seperate them very gently and be carefull only holding the seedlings by their leaf, not the stem. Place them in a small pot or out in the garden about 2 inch apart till large enough to go out to border where you want them to grow, they will not flower till the following year but IF you plant in late summe protect over winter and they sometimes flower the next year.
Good luck, Hope this helps you out. WeeNel.

Fort Dodge, IA

Thank you WeeNel. I bought both foxglove plants and foxglove seed. My idea was to sew the seed into the same area as the plants so that I would have plants at difrent stages growing at the same time, would this work?

I think I will take the wood up once the plants get over the shock of being moved. The weather has suddenly become much cooler and everything is really looking good right now. I have to LOL over your idea of the tent. A few days ago I moved some hollyhock seedlings from a west garden and put them into a south garden they got so wilted I put a chair over them to keep them shaded. My family was teasing me about making shade for my flowers all day. :)

Opp, AL(Zone 8b)

For biennials (hollyhocks and foxglove of those you mentioned,) you need to sow seeds two years in a row. So starting your foxglove patch with a blooming plant is a great idea. It will hopefully drop seeds that sprout next year.

A chair is a perfect temp shade, I do that. When the plants are no longer wilting, the shade is no longer necessary. Remove it when you think it's time.

I don't think it's necessary or beneficial to remove a thin layer of existing mulch. Newly moved/planted perennials won't be doing much spreading this year and by next spring the plants should be able to find their way around the chips and chunks. For some plants you may want to push the mulch a bit farther away when they seem like they need more room. Sounds like you're paying pretty close attention.

By Iris do you mean bearded Iris rhizomes? Those should be planted so their tops are exposed, especially in clay, or they can become the victims of rot and munching pests.

Fort Dodge, IA

Thank you, yes bearded Irises, and they didn't bloom this year and I have already discovered I planted them way to deep. I pulled them up this year, replaced just the roots in the dirt and tops exposed. :) I am getting a lot of people sending me Iris's as trades so I hope I am learning to put these in correctly this year. :)

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Here in the hot and humid South, we mulch everything...and the self-seed plants, cleome, rudbeckia, echinacea, mallow hibiscus,vinca, snapdragons etc manage to sow themselves quite well....along with a few stray weed/grass seeds. i use Fine pinebark mulch and try to keep it at least 2-3 inches thick. Conserves moisture, helps maintain ground temperature and helps block weeds. I do not put mulch up against the base of the plant or cover iris rhizomes with it to prevent crown rot. IMHO I think it also gives the beds a neat, uniform, finished appearance in addition to its' benefits.

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

I second what moonhowl says. Mulch conserves moisture, keeps weeds at bay, and does make the beds look so nice and neat. And all of my flowers that drop seeds manage to give me more than enough volunteers--enough for me to move some to other places and still have plenty to share with friends and relatives. I used to use wood chips but I have so many flowerbeds now that it got too expensive so now we rake up pine straw which is free and works very well too. Like you dcart, I like the informal cottage garden look and have been working on getting my flowers close together by allowing them to self seed or spread from their root systems and it's working well. For the patches that naturally occur while I'm waiting for all the flowers to fill in, I've been seeding with things like cosmos which are good fillers and gorgeous too.

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