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Frequently Asked Questions
Why are my evergreens turning brown?

This could be 1 of 2 things or a combination of both.

  1. Drought stress from last summer is becoming evident this spring.
  2. Salt damage- you will notice this along the roadside or driveway where salt was spread to melt the snow and ice.

Unfortunately, the damage may be too severe to revive the plant and it may need to be replaced.  If small areas are showing signs, the remedy for both would be to prune out any dead branches and fertilize with 10-10-10.  For salt damage only, try mixing in some gypsum in the soil around the plant.

Why didn’t my spring bulbs come up?

There are a few potential reasons. First, if you cut down the foliage too early last growing season, the bulbs may not have regained the necessary energy for the next bloom cycle. We recommend leaving foliage in place until it dies back naturally. We also recommend an application of Dutch Bulb Food in fall. If your bulbs have been doing well for a few years and mysteriously have a lackluster show, you may want to consider dividing them.

For pointers, please ask an Altumʼs associate. Last, itʼs no secret that your coveted bulbs are widely considered dinner for a number of neighborhood animals. Consider planting “deterrent bulbs” (ones they donʼt like) right alongside the ones they do. Just ask us for a list. You might also consider laying chicken wire over the bulbs and under the soil to prevent them from being dug up. Repellents may also work, but be sure to reapply regularly.

*follow package directions

When is the best time to prune my…

SPRUCES and PINES :: June or July by cutting the “candle” (new) growth in half.
BROADLEAF or NEEDLE EVERGREENS :: Shape in April through July and mid-September through October as needed.
DECIDUOUS TREES :: The best time to prune is late winter. Birches and maples should always be pruned after leaf drop
to avoid excessive sap flow.
DECIDUOUS SHRUBS :: The key here is bloom time. For shrubs that bloom before May, prune after flowering. For shrubs
that bloom after May, prune in March before the shrub begins to leaf out.
ALL PLANTS :: Trim out dead, diseased, or broken branches anytime.

How much sun is “Partial Sun”?

The ideal situation for most ‘partial sun’ plants is either morning sun or filtered sunlight. Typically, afternoon sun situations are going to be too hot for most partial sun plants, even if it is fewer than six hours.

How much sun is “Full Sun”?

Six or more hours per day.

How do I know when to water and how much?

For new plants, water slowly and generously, being sure to wet the soil to the depth of the original container or root ball. All newly planted items should be thoroughly soaked at least once a week from spring until ground freezes in fall (more frequently in very hot weather).

We recommend watering by hose turned to a slow drizzle for 20-30 minutes. Very small plants, such as groundcover, perennials, and flowering annuals have smaller root systems and will require a deep, thorough watering every 3-4 days. We also recommend an application of Root Stimulator* just after planting and weekly for six weeks, especially during warm summer months.

hose2Generally, the watering guide for new plants should be followed for 1-2 years after planting to ensure good root development and plant establishment. Beyond that, water plants throughout drier summer months to avoid placing them under unnecessary stress.

For annuals/tropical plants planted in containers or  hanging baskets, we recommend checking daily. Be sure to check below the soil surface. A moisture meter may be helpful. Hanging baskets are particularly susceptible to drying out, and during very hot, dry or windy conditions, they may require watering twice daily, particularly if they are located near walls, walks & patios of stone, concrete
or brick.

When do I fertilize and what product should I use?

Acid-loving Plants. For all evergreens apply Iron Plus* once in spring and once in fall.

Deciduous Trees and Shrubs :: 12-12-12* in April and after leaf drop in fall.
Groundcover :: 12-12-12* in April.
Perennials :: 12-12-12* in mid-March and again 6 weeks later.
Annuals :: For best results, use a water-soluble fertilizer once a week to promote growth and blooms.
How do I plant a tree or shrub?

Dig a hole that is approximately 6 inches wider than the root ball and shallow enough to leave the top third of the root ball exposed. Keeping the top portion just above soil level helps prevent potential drainage problems. Add Super Phosphate 0-18-0* to the bottom of the hole to stimulate root growth. Then mix an equal amount of Soil Amendment to the backfill soil.

For acid-loving plants (e.g. rhododendrons, azaleas, and evergreens), add Iron Plus* to the backfill. Remove your plants from their plastic containers (we invite you to bring them to our Drop-Your-Pots Recycling Zone, an easy way to be green!) and gently loosen
roots with your hand or cut entangled roots down vertically.

For balled or burlapped material, cut cords or ropes but leave the material and wire cage around the ball for ultimate protection. Back fill hole with enriched soil (see above) and use your foot or hoe to gently tamp down the soil, eliminating air pockets. Cover the exposed
root ball with a thin layer of backfill.

What is the best time of the year to plant trees & shrubs?

Anytime the ground is not frozen! Youʼll often hear that soil and weather conditions are most amenable in spring and fall. But pick a time that works best for you, when your favorite plant varieties are available and you have the time to spend.

One note: there are considerations to make when planting in the summer. Due to typically hot, dry weather, commit to a generous watering routine to help your plant thrive and to minimize the chance of transplant shock. We also recommend using Root Stimulator regularly, per label directions.