The Guild Report:   
Right Plant in the Right Place 

August 2013 
In This Issue
Point of View
Wrong Plant
Thirsty Trees Talk?
Quick Links

Point of View
Employee Owner

Josh Avila

"Depending on the project, I'm supervising 4-9 people and so I'm always thinking about them and what the next day will hold.  My average day is complex.  Right now we are involved in a major renovation of a campus.  It involves demolition, installation of a xeriscape - with drought resistant plants and a new irrigation system with state of the art nozzles!  Gardeners' Guild has always taken an interest in my education which has grown my career here."

Josh is in our Construction Division and has been with Gardeners' Guild for 8 years. 

Wrong Plant, Wrong Environment

The above is a shade loving Hosta.  They are what is called a shade tolerant/partial shade plant.  This plant likes some sun in the morning, but obviously this plant has gotten a sunburn.

Hostas are part of the Lily family and grow 18 to 30 inches tall.

How to tell is a Hosta as gotten too much sun:
  • Browning on tips and edges of leaves
  • Dull color and faded spots on leaves.
Note:  There are some varieties that like full sun, also.

This is what a happy healthy Hosta looks like:

Gardeners' Guild Our Planet
See the video on our sustainable program!

Cardinale LS email

Sounds like a simple philosophy - right?

Surprisingly, it's not always.  The most beautiful garden design may not work if the plant recommendations aren't appropriate for their environment. 

There are a myriad of reasons why a plant may not thrive.  Pest problems, not enough water, too much water, soil type - are typical reasons.  If it is determined that the plant is not in the right place, the problem could be resolved easily. 

I've been applying this with my own garden.  The property has a lot of shade, some areas with a range of full shade to full sun. And, I've dedicated a lot of time to determining which plants are appropriate for its various micro climates.   

Coupled with that - I'm committed to planting the heartiest and the most drought tolerant varieties I can find.  It leaves me with less choices, but it's been fun.   And, I now know very specifically how much sun my each area gets and at what time I can expect it.

Knowing the micro climates and sun requirements of your property cannot be stressed enough.  Is your site a wind tunnel with no sun?  Or are you in Walnut Creek baking in 90 degree temps and full sun?  Is your soil clay or loamy?  Or, are the dogs using your lawn as their personal rest room?  Or, is a maturing landscape creating shade where there once was none?

Below are tips and what you want to look for.
All the best,
Gardeners' Guild Inc.
Consider Sunlight 
Plants need various amounts of light to reach their potential.  A plant needing shade will struggle and get burned in the sun and the reverse is true with a plant requiring sun. 

What does it mean when the plant tag says full sun?

Full sun:  6 hours of direct sunlight every day.

Partial sun/Partial shade:  3-6 hours of sun per day, either in the morning or early afternoon.  Note:  Partial sun is a greater emphasis on receiving minimal sun.  Whereas if the label says Partial shade, it will need relief from intense late afternoon sun.

Dappled Sun:  Similar to partial shade.  Dappled means the sun that makes its way through branches of a tree.  Woodland plants and under plantings prefer this type of sunlight over even the limited direct exposure they would get from partial shade.

Full Shade:  Less than 3 hours of direct sunlight each day, with filtered sunlight during the rest of the day.  It does not mean no sun. 

Signs of too much or too little sun:   

Too much sun:
  • flower petals look dry
  • leaf edges look burnt or dry
  • flower color looks faded or washed out
  • entire plant starts to weaken and droop
Too little sun:
  • growth is sparse
  • stems are lanky and spindly
  • distance between leaves is wide
  • fewer flower buds; thus fewer flowers
  • entire plant leans toward light source
Consider Water  
Like a plant's need for sunlight, it needs water, but depending on its type, environment and soil, its range can be from drought tolerant to needing daily moisture. 

Note:  plants take one to three years to develop sufficient roots to thrive on their own.  Even "drought tolerant" plants need more water in their first few years.

Optimal plant growth can only be achieved if water is properly managed.

It is most important that we understand our site and where the soil tends to be moist and where it is dry.  For plants that thrive in moist soils, knowing where that moist place is can get a plant off to a good start. 

A few tips:
To know if your plant is getting the right amount of water, dig down eight inches a day or two after watering, near the outer canopy of the plant.  Grab a handful of the soil.  Squeeze the handful.  If it is muddy and watery, reduce your watering for plants requiring regular irrigation.  If it is so dry it turns to dust, increase your watering.  If you can form a dirt clod in your hand, yet break it apart with little effort, it is probably correct water.
  • When it is hot, dry and windy, plants use up water rapidly. 
  • Young or shallow rooted plants cannot absorb water fast enough to keep foliage from wilting.
  • Container grown plants dry out more quickly than those in the ground.
Consider Soil  
hand in dirt
Know your soil.  Do your research before planting. Soil is either sandy (coarse), loamy (medium) and clay (fine).  Sandy soil dries out quickly.  Clay soil retains more water and is sticky when wet.  Clay when amended with organic matter is very productive.  Loamy soil has roughly equal proportions of sand, silt and clay.  It allows roots to penetrate easily and it drains well.  The majority of plants like loamy soil. Many plant labels state a preference for "well draining soil".

Find out if your soil is "well draining" by doing this test:
dig a hole 6 inches wide and 1 foot deep.  Fill it with water and let it drain.  Then do it again, but this time clock how long it takes to drain.  In a well drained soil the water level will go down at a rate of 1" per hour.   A faster rate, such as sandy soil may signal potentially dry site conditions.  A slower rate means you will need to provide drainage or look for a species tolerant of moist conditions.  
Consider Environment   
Windy-Dry-Foggy-Sunny.  Are you in the East Bay or on the coast?  We have scores of micro-climates to choose from here in the bay area.  And, there are a lot of resources in which to research the right plant for your environment.
We've been helping people to do this for forty-one years, so call us and we can help you with a design that recommends plants that are the best fit for your site.    
Thirsty Trees Talk? 
A team of scientists in France have found that indeed they do talk.  And they found that throughout the world two out of three trees are dangerously parched.

Dr. Alexandre Ponomarenko says the human eye can't detect a dehydrated tree so they designed a sensitive microphone and this is what they found.

Tune in to NPR to hear more