Planting Guide

Native Azalea Planting Guide

If you are not ready to plant when your plants arrive, pot them up and store in a protected unheated area, such as a garage.  Be sure to keep plants watered but not soggy.  It is best to plant while they are dormant, or going dormant, with the azaleas root ball 2" above ground level.  Planting while azaleas are in the growing season just takes a little more care.  Dig your hole twice the depth and width of the root ball and back fill with good well-drained organic soil.  A mixture of 1/2 your current topsoil and 1/2  pine bark fines, or a organic compost like Nature's Helper, does very well.  Mound organic soil mix up to root ball, soak plant in with water and then add one to two inches of pine bark mulch.

You will need to keep native azaleas watered for the first year until their roots are established.  Native Azaleas can take one to two years to adjust to their new home before they really get going.  In the Deep South, zone 8, native azaleas will need high shade such as under a canopy of pine trees.  The further North you are the more sun they can take.  Just remember the more sun, the more often they will need to be watered.  Increased direct sun leads to more blooms and a more compact growth habit.  Fertilize your plants after they have bloomed or in May or June like evergreen azaleas.  Do not prune azaleas within 30 days of freezing weather as it can keep your plant from going dormant when it should and kill or set it back severely.  Once they are established, Native Azaleas take little care other than to be sure they get some water in an extended drought.  When mulched yearly with an inch or two of pine bark or pine needles, fertilizer is not needed to produce a strong healthy plant.


Planting Ferns

There are a few general rules that apply to planting most ferns.  Soil should be relatively loose in structure with plenty of rich humus.  If you have access to leaf mold, dig in and thoroughly mix into the existing soil.  Compost, decaying hardwood mulch, or chopped leaves are also good humus builders.  Ferns should be planted at or just below ground level.  Always mulch after planting and keep the ferns mulched.  Chopped leaves, hardwood, compost, or a combination of these materials are essential for retaining moisture and helping to keep the root zone cool; both of which are basics to success with ferns.  Do not allow your newly planted ferns to severely dry out the first year in the garden.  They need time to get the new roots spread out into the surrounding soil to support themselves during dry periods.  Last on the list of do's would be a bit of homework.  Just how much shade does the fern you want to plant require?  Some will sulk in those darkest corners; others quickly fry to a crisp in open woods.  If the fern of your choice naturally grows in a bog, I would not plant it on a hillside at the base of a cedar tree.  It is far easier, and much less expensive, to read before planting than after it dies.  We all tend to plant where we want it to grow rather than where the fern actually belongs.

Planting Hostas

Hostas require moist soil with good aeration.  With the larger plants, I have seen roots extending down 2 or more feet!  Mushroom compost, compost, peat moss, or any other organic additive that improves water retention, and allows water to seep down to the roots easily is highly recommended.  A two foot in diameter hole dug to a foot down will do your hostas right.
Hostas are quite hardy and if one does not do anything special to the site, the hosta most likely will look OK.  Giving your investment the best start by preparing the site will allow the hosta to flourish to it's highest potential.  Good soil will also enable the hostas to look their best during adverse times, like drought on those hot summer days.