Reviving traumatized shrubs

CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal)  Keeping a shrub indoors through winter can be a challenge, but with the right care every spring and fall your chances of success triple!  Shari Petrucci from the Western Mass Master Gardener Association told us more.

One Trauma At a Time: Reviving a Potted Shrub

  • Keeping a shrub indoors through winter can be a challenge, but with the right care every spring and fall your chances of success triple!
  • In the spring you know to slowly expose the shrub to direct outdoor sunlight, this is called hardening off. “Hardening off” is the process of moving plants outdoors for a portion of the day to gradually introduce them to the direct sunlight, dry air, and cold nights.
  • If the shrub looks half dead, don’t give up on it right away. And don’t prune off the dead branches! Many times once a shrub is in the right growing conditions much of it will grow back. If the plant is really struggling, cutting off too much too soon could just kill it completely.
  • So, let’s focus on one trauma at a time.
  • After hardening off the plant, remove it from the pot.
  • Get new soil for potting that is an appropriate soil for the type of shrub. For example, is the shrub tropical, desert, or Mediterranean, etc.
  • Choose a pot that is double the base of the plants root ball every three years, making sure it has holes in the bottom for drainage, and fill a ¼ of the way up with gravel to aid in preventing root rot.
  • Inspect the roots, prune as needed. I like to rinse them off outside and look close for any signs of rot, choking, healthy growth, etc.
  • Pour some soil into the pot and place the root ball over and around the cone of soil. Tuck the roots downward. Fill with more soil and pat and tuck and repeat until the soil level has reached the base of the shrub. Be sure to leave room at the top for watering.
  • Water the plant regularly. Some shrubs that thrive in an arid climate may only need watering once a week, whereas tropical plants may require daily watering. Fertilize once a month.
  • After 1 month check for new growth, leaves first and then new branches. This is when you can now prune the dead branches off. Continue to prune to shape the shrub in the fall and get it ready to bring indoors for the winter.
  • Before you bring it indoors, hose it down really good and let it dry off. Check for spiders, mites or any other pesky critters that you may not want in the house. If you find insects, treat with a horticultural soap. Check again, rinse and dry again, and bring indoors to a sunny window. A south facing window is best. There’s nothing more beautiful than a shrub adorning areas around the home bringing warmth a hope for spring.






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