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Old 06-21-2011, 10:05 PM   #1
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Too much water or not enough?


I have been having trouble growing trees, shrubs, and some garden plants. Particularly, I have been having trouble with a tropical hibismus tree and raspberry bushes. The tree had flowers on it when I bought it. I dug the hole bigger than the root ball and covered with miracle grow soil. Smae with the raspberry bushes, but both look like they are dying. The tree is by itself and I have added fertilizer spikes in an effort to give food. The raspberry bushes are in my garden where the rest of the garden is flourishing. I water the garden almost daily on days it does not rain and give the tree a healthy dose of water about twice a week.

Am I giving too much water or not enough? How can I tell what the plant wants?

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Old 06-22-2011, 09:05 AM   #2
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Too much water or not enough?


cool it out with the fertilizer and let the dirt around it feed the roots you might of over feed it and its in shock...keep the soil finger wet and don't have a big mulch pile covering the roots ..make a fist size ring on the outer edge of the base and fill that as the water moute let the roots pull on the ring..


Last edited by biggles; 06-22-2011 at 09:08 AM.
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Old 06-22-2011, 05:52 PM   #3
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Too much water or not enough?


Was it healthy nursery stock to start? Sometimes those berry bushes in plastic bags have been sitting on non-climate controlled trucks and stacked in the nursery by the exit doors for ages.

Stock that has been sitting can become pot bound. This used to happen quite often with somewhat shady nurseries in California. The first thing you had to do was break up to root ball or the roots would just grow around and cut off access to water and nutrients.

Try exploding the root ball on the hibiscus. You can boy a probe with a sharp point and two to four water jets coming out the sides. Hook the other end to a garden use. Work the probe into the root ball and crank the pressure up to max. You may actually hear or feel the root ball breaking apart a bit. This is a good thing.

If you are not sure about watering? You might get a moisture probe. It does sound like you are watering a lot and plants will be healthier if you water for long periods of time, early in the morning, and less frequently. Deep watering like this encourages root growth and resistance to dry spells.

Last edited by user1007; 06-22-2011 at 08:43 PM.
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Old 06-23-2011, 05:10 AM   #4
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Too much water or not enough?


Hope this works. I have not used the attachment feature before. Anyhow, here is a sketch of the root ball aerator/exploder type thing I was describing. You ease the tip down into the planted root ball and then crank up the water pressure. Works more than 50 percent of the time but sometimes the roots just get to wrapped around themselves. You can then try digging the tree or bush up and pruning by hand as the last resort.

Nurseries used to sell them for $20 or so.
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Too much water or not enough?-root-ball-aerator.jpg  

Last edited by user1007; 06-23-2011 at 05:14 AM.
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Old 06-23-2011, 08:32 AM   #5
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Too much water or not enough?


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Originally Posted by sdsester View Post
Was it healthy nursery stock to start? Sometimes those berry bushes in plastic bags have been sitting on non-climate controlled trucks and stacked in the nursery by the exit doors for ages.

Stock that has been sitting can become pot bound. This used to happen quite often with somewhat shady nurseries in California. The first thing you had to do was break up to root ball or the roots would just grow around and cut off access to water and nutrients.

Try exploding the root ball on the hibiscus. You can boy a probe with a sharp point and two to four water jets coming out the sides. Hook the other end to a garden use. Work the probe into the root ball and crank the pressure up to max. You may actually hear or feel the root ball breaking apart a bit. This is a good thing.

If you are not sure about watering? You might get a moisture probe. It does sound like you are watering a lot and plants will be healthier if you water for long periods of time, early in the morning, and less frequently. Deep watering like this encourages root growth and resistance to dry spells.
The tree came from Menards which was outside their doors in full sunlight, but unsure of how long they sat their before I bought it about a month ago. Same for the raspberry bushes. They were bought from a parking lot nursery that were sitting outside (not inside like some other raspberry bushes protected from the weather). I did minor root loosening when I planted them, but I will have to try that root probe. Do you think there is any concern over soil pH or other soil measurements?
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Old 06-23-2011, 08:44 AM   #6
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Too much water or not enough?


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Originally Posted by C_J_GO View Post
Do you think there is any concern over soil pH or other soil measurements?
When practicing landscape design years ago I always got a thorough soil analysis done and especially with new construction. Top soil came and went depending on how sites were graded to the point you could not tell what was going on between the front, back and side yards. University of California extension used to do residential soil testing for free from samples prepared to their specs. Long gone are those days but soil testing is not expensive and can save lots in money wasted on fertilizers and so forth soil is incapable of metabolizing.

You can and should home test kit for Ph every season or so if nothing else. I think the home kits with the strips are $20. Don't go crazy buying lots of strips as the chemical reagents will break down before you get to use them.

The more you describe how you came to find your plants, I suspect you may have created a watering problem but would also suggest the nursery stock was not well taken care of to start. In California nursery stock was sold in containers so you had a fighting chance of keeping it alive until it was sold and planted. Here we do the ball and burlap or plastic wrap alternative. And you don't know how long that hibiscus was on the truck before just laid out on the concrete before whatever period of time before you bought it.

Not to harp on box stores again but there is something to be said about getting plants from a real nursery. I do know all the box stores advertise their plants will grow or your money back? If I were you, I would be thinking about asking for your money back if my water tool does not help or pulling the plant out and replanting at with roots trimmed does not either.

Do you have receipts. I have no idea what you need to return plants that fail to box stores but I think you should think about doing so with your hibiscus and rasberries soon if the soil thing I mentioned and further breaking apart the root ball does not help.

Last edited by user1007; 06-23-2011 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 06-24-2011, 12:44 PM   #7
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Too much water or not enough?


What these guys have been telling you is correct.

First of all, transplanting bushes and trees is a little like people having major surgery. It doesn't always work. I hope you saved your receipts.

Second, it's always good to keep in mind that it takes at least a couple years for most transplanted trees to really regain their health. I planted 5 - 20' tall Sugar Maple Trees 3 summers ago. They did fine both of the previous summers, but this is the first summer where they have REALLY been hearty and strong.


That said, I'd suggest no more fertilizer. In fact, you may have already overdone it. Keep giving them a good drink of water every couple days. You should be fine.
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Old 06-25-2011, 02:11 AM   #8
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Too much water or not enough?


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That said, I'd suggest no more fertilizer. In fact, you may have already overdone it. Keep giving them a good drink of water every couple days. You should be fine.
Agreed. In fact you mentioned you used tree spikes for the hibiscus? If they are still somewhat intact, I would think about digging them out until you address what is going on with the plant and its watering needs.

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