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What to do when your plants arrive!   

How to Unpack your Plants:

Please take a moment to read this page.  You will have better results with our plants if you do!  

We have what we believe is the best packing method in the business!

Each plant has a number of small bamboo stakes in them which keep them from shifting in the box.   Carefully lift out the plant so you don't damage the foliage.  We are obsessive when placing the plants in the box not to damage a single leaf.   They can't shift during shipping so if they get damaged it's usually because, in the excitement of the moment, the customer pulls them out with a little too much enthusiasm or speed.  (No blame here -- we get excited too when something comes in the mail!) Just be gentle and go slowly!  They're often wedged in fairly snuggly to keep them from shifting.  Use care, maybe even wear gloves - the edges of our pots are sharp.


Plants will have CEDAR SHAVINGS over the soil to keep the soil in the pot and/or to help support foliage.  Remove the Cedar Shavings very gently, especially, if you don't see foliage -- there may be a plant just starting to emerge beneath it.

The plants have a plastic bag put around the pot (which needs to be removed), over the cedar shavings and then yet another pot is placed over the original pot to hold the plastic in place. Since these photos were taken, we've substituted rubber bands for tape to hold the plastic in place.  Much easier to remove!  As you can see, the plants are extremely stable with this system.  Even when the Post Office turns the box upside down, they're safe.  

The foliage doesn't get crushed at all and with air holes in the box in summer, they're usually very happy traveling.  

*Now, having said all of that in nauseating detail, occasionally your plants will arrive packed somewhat differently because some plants simply won't work with this method.  

Just go slowly and be gentle unpacking  Sometimes to get an odd shaped plant to ship safely, we're very creative!  Also occasionally, we add more soil under the root ball to raise the plant up for  packing rather than using Sphagnum over the soil.   This would be common for a very well rooted plant with multiple stems that only needs the rubber bands to hold it in and would be tough to get Sphagnum around the stems.

Plant foliage is often cut back for shipping.  Too much foliage can simply make the plant too thirsty to spend 2-3 days in a box without water.  Also, depending on the time of the year, we routinely cut plants back because they've bloomed or because it makes them bushier and fuller.  (We don't cut them back for our convenience!)  If they're cut back, they needed it and will be better for it in the long run!


We're very proud of our packing system, designed in part based on a suggestion from a customer - just in case you don't think we listen to you - we do!  We have almost no damage to plants.  Once last year a box appeared to have been crushed in a truck door but even then, the customer said the plants were fine.  Ditto, for the plants shipped to Georgia in a box that arrived so wet that the customer said the box looked more like a bag than a box but, again, no damage to the plants!


We guarantee that our plants are healthy when shipped, arrive in good condition and are true to name but we can’t guarantee your gardening/watering abilities, what the neighborhood dog might do, vole or deer damage, etc. Basically, once they’re in your care, like a baby or a puppy or a goldfish, the plants are your responsibility!

Note: If the shipper damages your shipment, let us know RIGHT AWAY -- not weeks later  -- so that we can tell you what to do and/or ship replacements.  Luckily, with our new packing system, it is extremely rare for anything to arrive damaged.  However...

We do reserve the right to request return of damaged or unsatisfactory plants at our expense.  Often we can revive them and/or at least try to determine what happened to prevent it's occurrence.  


How to Care for and Plant your New Plants:

When they arrive, unpack them, give them a drink if they need it after you remove the plastic bag sandwiched between the two pots.  Then place them out of direct sun but in good light and out of strong wind for a day or two. Remember, they’ve been in pretty much complete darkness for several days. Gradually move them from the protected spot into conditions where they’re going to live.  If somehow, a plant is really, really dry, see instructions at the bottom of the page.  (This almost never happens.)

Spring Plants (if it's summer, skip down to summer)

-- Most of our SPRING plants need to be ‘hardened off’ against full, outdoor sun and/or strong wind in.  In early spring, our plants are accustomed to 35 degree nights inside the greenhouse.  (And occasionally 65 degrees on nights that it snows to melt the snow off of the houses.) Most have not been exposed to wind or direct outside sun.  If you live in places hotter than we are at the time (check the weather channel) and sunnier or at much higher altitude, for instance Denver, keep this in mind and gradually introduce them to your climate.

--  Watch for frost warnings if you’re still having frost and place something over them.  Our favorite cover is a cardboard box with a brick or rock on top.   If you have lots of new plants, try large coffee filters with the edges held down with mulch or soil.

Summer/Fall Plants - especially for low humidity/high altitude locations

--  No special care needed other than the day or two in light shade to acclimate from being in the box unless you're in an extremely different climate in which case you may need to spend a bit more time acclimatizing them. 

      In summer, our plants can easily take 90+ degree weather in full sun (if they're sun plants) however, it's 90 degree weather with HIGH humidity here at a low altitude.  If you're somewhere that's it's 90 and low or no humidity and maybe a high altitude where the sun is stronger, the plants will have to make a supervised adjustment and will have higher water needs for awhile.

All plants - Spring, Summer, or Fall

Be sure to prepare your beds properly for you area.  In many areas, soil prep can make the difference in success or failure.  We just can't emphasis this enough.  Soil prep is so important. You wouldn't move into a shack and expect to patch on it over and over while you were living in it.  The soil is your plant's home - build it right in the first place!  Most plants will not survive in poorly drained soil.  Following is a general diagram of how to plant and mulch. 

1.  The 'raised mound' method, left, works for every garden/soil - with about 1/3 to 1/2 of the root ball out of the soil up in the 'good' mounded soil and is absolutely NECESSARY FOR CLAY SOIL if you don't have raised bed.  This is our method of choice.  It leaves a beautiful smooth bed but does require a little more attention to watering the first season.

2. The middle method only works in well-drained soil or raised beds and tends to channel a little more water toward the plant down in the 'bowl'.

3. The method on the right - with mulch over the root ball of the plant and AGAINST THE STEM -- is a sure way to kill them regardless of soil!  Don't bury the plant under deep mulch.  The mulch must taper off toward the stem and NEVER TOUCH it!  

After planting, while they’re getting established (usually for the first growing season) plants need a good, deep watering once a week, either by you or Mother Nature.  This meets the plant's water needs AND encourages the plant to grow deep roots as it searches for water near the end of the week as the upper moisture is used up.  Obviously, your weather may dictate watering more often BUT light daily water just encourages shallow, weak roots.  

-- If you use liquid fertilizers, read the directions. Very few people will stick with every week to 10 days, as the manufacturer recommends. This is why we’re so sold on Osmocote 14-14-14 Time-Release fertilizer. You apply it twice a year. Once in late March and once in late June. And that’s it! You’re done. Liquid fertilizers and organic fertilizers are fine BUT unless you’re consistent for the ENTIRE season - spring through fall, you won’t get great results with liquid fertilizers or even Organic Fertilizer (which also require much more frequent applications - usually monthly).  However, we love Seaweed/Fish Emulsion several times a year for trace elements in addition to the Osomocote 14-14-14.

-- Occasionally, if we have them, we ship year older plants. You will be able to tell -- they’ll be strongly rooted in -- possibly very tightly rooted. Don’t worry -- just loosen the roots to let them know they’re out of the pot and they’ll take right off. Don't cut them -- just loosen them.  The plant will have the hormones and growth patterns of a gallon plant and will be a much stronger grower than our newly potted plants. (Just don’t be alarmed at a tight root mass if you get a plant like that --just loosen the roots, plant it and stand back!)

-- Please read the descriptions on our website if you’re unsure about the growing needs of your plants. (Trying to grow a plant that wants sun, well-drained, neutral soil in shade and poorly drained acid soil isn’t a formula for success!)

While we can’t do in-depth plant consulting, (there are way too many of you and too few of us!), please contact us if you’re having a truly serious problem with our plants.  

If you haven’t picked up on this by now, we’re actually a husband/wife team who physically touches each and every plant that leaves here either in the propagating or potting phase. Our 28 acre nursery is where we live -- in more ways than one! We love what we do and hope you’ll be pleased with our plants. With one full time employee and a few part-time people we grow around 200,000  Perennials, Trees and Small shrubs in a Season!  

Thank you again for allowing us to grow some of those plants just for you!

Debby and Pete Sheuchenko

This is at the bottom because it's rarely needed but it can also apply to your own plant(s) that get extremely dry.

What to do for a plant that arrived REALLY dry or possibly damaged from heat in transit:

1. Water the plant well, but then don't water it again until it needs it.   This is the single biggest error people make with very dry plants.  We call it 'D&D' -- Dry then Drowned!  A weakened plant won't get better more quickly if you give it tons of water, or even worse, leave it in standing water.  It, in effect, drowns.  Just water it well, then wait until it actually needs more water.  That may be the next day but maybe not, especially if it's in the shade.  If there's been severe foliage damage, the plant may not need water for days or even weeks until it grows all new foliage!  

Feel the pot, after you've watered it really well to judge what a 'heavy' pot feels like.  You want to be sure the soil is thoroughly wet -- you may have to water, wait 10 minutes, water again since our pots are usually very full of soil.  You may want to submerge the pot in water until air bubbles stop coming out of the soil.  BUT then don't water it again until the pot feels 'light'.

2. Place the plant out of wind, so it can recuperate for a few days or longer.

3.  FYI, a plant with no foliage  has NO water needs.   (Maybe the leaves got so dry, they fell off)   

          We repeat: No leaves = No water!    Water the soil once, then wait for new foliage to grow, keeping the pot watered ONLY when the soil is dry and the pot is light.

Watering plants in quart pots is an art.  We consider watering here at the nursery to be one of the Most Skilled jobs.

If your plant arrives really dry or heat damaged, PLEASE Contact Us

It is our responsibility to replace plants that are damaged in shipment but it's possible that the plant only needs some TLC for a couple of days.  Let us know as soon as the shipment arrives if there's a problem so we can assist you.


Contact Us for a quick response to your questions!