Anyone can have a green thumb when armed with the right information, and we want to set you up to enjoy a healthy landscape for years to come. Here’s what you should know about caring for freshly planted landscaping:
Watering deeply is always best because it helps your plants grow deeper roots. Set the hose on a trickle and place it at the base of your plant. Set a timer and move the hose from plant to plant as time runs out. Each plant has different preferences for how much moisture they need to thrive, and referring to the care instructions your salesperson shared with you can help guide you.
Your plants will need more supplemental water in their first year in the ground than they will in future years, keep an eye on them when weather is particularly warm and dry. If you ever have a question about if something needs more or less water to thrive, our team is always here to help.
For our LandKeeping clients, we handle all the fertilizing for you so you can skip this section.
If you are maintaining your landscaping yourself, pay attention to the care instructions we provided specific to the plants on your property. Here are the hardware store products we recommend if you’re fertilizing your plants yourself:
- Holly-tone: we like Holly-tone for arborvitae, holly, evergreen shrubs, and hydrangeas. Follow the instructions on the bag, and be sure to wear gloves while you apply it, as the smell will stick to your hands.
- Miracle-Gro: We like the Miracle-Gro spray garden feeder that attaches to your hose for easily fertilizing perennials and annuals, especially ones that bloom in the summer. Spray perennials every other week for the best results.
- Espoma brands for Hydrangeas: If you have macrophylla hydrangeas (pink and purple ones like Endless Summer) and you want to change their color, look for the Espoma brand in hardware stores. There are products to raise or lower the pH of your soil to get the desired color but be warned that it can be very difficult to get blue flowers in Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio due to our soil composition.
Deadheading and Pruning
Many plants will rebloom when they’re properly deadheaded and pruned. LandKeeping clients – we’ve got you covered here too.
Helpful hint: Deadheading is when you remove individual blooms once they’re past their peak so that the plant can focus on new blooms instead of spending energy maintaining the old ones. Deadheading removes just the spent blooms, while pruning often involves cutting away more of the plant.
If you’re maintaining your own landscaping, here are some tips to help you maximize blooms on some of the most common plants in our area:
Start by trimming out any dead branches – they won’t return once they’re dead. Pick pruning is the practice of removing select branches all the way to the stem of the plant to allow increased light and air to reach inside the plant. Boxwoods are very densely branched, so removing several branches to the stem will not ruin the plant. A light outer trim helps retain the shape of the plant.
Although boxwoods are known to be hearty, we’ve seen damage to them in Dayton and Cincinnati in recent years. There are two main causes:
- The box tree moth: we are closely following updates on the box tree moth, which has been found in Cincinnati already, and are working directly with industry experts on best practices for treating and tracking this pest. Examining your plants regularly to detect problems early is the best way to manage this.
- Winter 2022: we had a sudden and severe temperature drop combined with sustained icy winds in December 2022 which significantly damaged boxwoods. Brown spots on boxwoods from this winter damage will not grow back.
Deadheading throughout the season can encourage the plant to continue producing blooms. Trim down to the next flower shoot. Some people like to leave the flower heads through the winter to provide food for the birds and to provide some texture during the winter months, others prefer to cut them back after the blooms are spent. Either way is acceptable, and the plants will continue to bloom next year.
It’s usually best to prune heuchera in the spring. The foliage will die back during frosts, but leaving it in place insulates the roots to help the plant survive winter. In the spring, simply pull away the old foliage or cut it back to the ground before new growth begins.
Hosta plants can be left alone for most of the season, just removing any leaves that aren’t attractive as needed. In the fall, wait until the foliage has turned yellow or brown before cutting back the leaves all the way to the ground. You can also wait until spring to clear out the foliage if you prefer.
Different varieties have different requirements, so knowing what type of hydrangea you’re working on is important before you start pruning. Here’s what we recommend to maximize blooms and avoid damage:
Hydrangea Paniculata (varieties like Limelight, Little Lime, Quickfire, PeeGee, Bobo, and Others)
Prune in the late fall to early spring by cutting just below the flower head.
Hydrangea Macrophylla or Serrata (varieties like Nikko Blue, Endless Summer, and Others)
These hydrangeas bloom on old wood and should only be pruned after early July to avoid affecting the next year’s blooms. Newer varieties have been bred to bloom on both old and new wood and can be trimmed at any time. The vast majority of macrophylla that we install will be varieties that bloom on both old and new wood, like Endless Summer, because they bloom more reliably in our climate in Dayton and Cincinnati.
Hydrangea Quern Folia
These bloom on old wood and should be pruned when the flowers are no longer attractive by removing the spent flowers just below the bloom. If it becomes leggy and needs more severe pruning, it’s best to do that in the Spring. It will respond nicely in time.
Hydrangea Petiolaris (Climbing Hydrangea)
These bloom on old wood. It can take several years for a newly planted climbing hydrangea to bloom, with blooms appearing in late June or early July. Prune after flowering and remove dead wood and damaged branches. Some light shaping can also be done to enhance the plant’s shape.
Spirea blooms on new wood and responds well to pruning. Fall is the best time to complete the most severe pruning if you want to change the shape or size of your plant. It will fill in nicely the following spring. During the growing season, spirea can be lightly trimmed to maintain its shape and encourage another round of blooms.
Once blooms are faded, cut them back by half, leaving the base leaf growth in place.
Other Blooming Perennials
Most other blooming perennials and annuals respond well to deadheading, where you cut the spent blooms off just below the bloom throughout the season. If you have questions about a specific perennial, feel free to call our office at 937-847-8000.
And those are the important things you should know! Remember, we offer a 1-year plant warranty for plants we install. If anything doesn’t look right, give us a call. We can help you troubleshoot the issue, or we can replace the plant.