iLoveFlowwers
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Everything I Plant Dies - Desperate for HELP

I love having a pretty yard but I have spent hundreds of dollars on plants and usually within a week or so they start dying.
I am so frustrated because I just have no idea what I am doing wrong. They usually start wilting about 3 days or so after I plant them and continue to get worse until they are dead. I live in Southern California and it has only been running about 80 degrees here so not terribly hot. I have planted ferns, vincas, succulants, umbrella tree, rose bushes. Please any help would be so appreciated.

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applestar
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Re: Everything I Plant Dies - Desperate for HELP

Welcome to the forum. I hope we can help. :D

There are many reasons this could be happening -- I've had my share of dying plants, but I'll start with a few basic ideas.

When you bring plants home from the store, it's best not to plant them right away but to keep them in somewhat shady area at first and slowly acclimate them to more sun and outdoor conditions because usually they were kept under cover of some sort and in protected location with less sun or wind. They will need to be watered carefully during this time, especially if they are potbound in the current container. They were probably watered several times a day at the store.

I learned over the years that you need to match plants to the location -- amount of sun, soil quality and pH, moisture level -- then get plants that like those conditions. If I buy a plant for looks, then I look around the garden to find a location that suits it while it is acclimating. Group plants that like the same kind of location together in the area.

Preparing the soil is important. Loosen and add nutrients, organic, and drainage amendments that match the plant's requirements. If the plant is to be kept in a container, research the ultimate size at maturity and plant accordingly in appropriately sized container, or be prepared to uppot. Well draining potting mix is crucial in containers, and they should have sufficient number/size drainage holes.

When planting in the ground, consider their ultimate size and space them apart accordingly. Put taller plants in the back, shorter in the front or where they won't be overwhelmed or shaded by their neighbors.

Most plants will do best if they are deeply watered at planting. Water the plant in the container. If the soil is dry, fill the planting hole with water and let it be absorbed, remove the plant from container, put the plant in the hole and water halfway up the hole, then fill the hole with loose soil. Sometimes you need to water one more time to settle the soil. (Succulents and cacti are a little bit different). Thereafter, water according to their needs.

...does any of these sound like it could be part of the problem? Going forward, if you could post photos of the plants in trouble, it may be possible to recognize what is wrong.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Everything I Plant Dies - Desperate for HELP

Very good advice from applestar and I don't have a lot to add. But usually when you take a plant out of the pot, the roots are a bit pot bound. You need to use a fork or your fingers to gently pull them apart, so they are loosened up and hanging straight down.

What do your plants look like when they are dying? Turning yellow and wilting can be a sign of over-watering. Often people are trying too hard and tend to love their plants to death.

And absolutely second what applestar said about matching the plants to the conditions. Every plant has its own set of conditions that it needs (sun, water, soil type, etc) and either will not thrive or will die if they are not met. Stores don't usually give much if any information about that, so if you don't know you need to look them up.

What you listed is a mixed bag: I have planted ferns, vincas, succulants, umbrella tree, rose bushes

There are lots of different ferns with different requirements, but in general the common ones need dappled shade (open shade under a tall tree, not total shade, but little to no direct sun), very hummus-y organic soil that is slightly acidic, moisture retentive but well drained. Need plenty of water, but not water-logged, never wants to dry out.

schefflera (umbrella tree), I only know as a houseplant, since it is not frost tolerant. Outdoors in the right climate it can become a multi-stemmed tree 15 feet or more tall, and tending to spread. It likes bright, indirect light, not direct hot sun. It is drought tolerant, which means once it is established (has put down roots and is growing well), it does not like too much water and needs to dry out between waterings. It is not particular about the pH (acidity) of the soil as long as it isn't extreme on either end.

Rose bushes need full sun, moist well drained soil that is rich in organics, very slightly acidic.

If everything dies, you may have a problem with your soil. You should send a sample to be analyzed and they can tell you what type of soil you have (acidity, amount of organics, nutrients) and what it needs.

Hope this helps! Stay in touch with us and we will help you get that pretty yard! :)
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DDMcKenna
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Re: Everything I Plant Dies - Desperate for HELP

It sounds like the guys have covered just about all the possibilities. When I first read your post, I felt bad because I know how you feel. My wife does all the “gardening” and I haven’t done much more than do whatever she tells me. That is until my son sent me my first little tree.

Your post made me think someone might have used some type of ground-clearing chemical like Round-up but that shouldn’t last too long. Like RG said, getting your soil tested might the easiest way to start. I was thinking about you trying a “Raised Bed” small garden where you could create the total living environment with specific soil and everything to see how it goes. But I guess there could be a lot of reasons why your plants are dying. Hopefully, you don't have a neighbor that likes to use Round-up on a windy day.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Everything I Plant Dies - Desperate for HELP

It also occurred to me that much of what you described is high maintenance stuff. Ferns would take a lot of work to maintain in a drought-struck state. Rose bushes are generally quite high maintenance. I am a very experienced gardener, with pretty much of a green thumb, but I don't grow roses, because I garden organically and low maintenance, and roses just don't do very well without a lot of sprays, fertilizer, etc.

If you want to get started and have a pretty yard full of colorful flowers, you would be much better off to plant low-maintenance, drought tolerant, hardy native plants. Native plants are adapted to your environment/ climate and so (once established) tend to thrive much better with less care.

Here's a few suggestions to start with of hardy natives that also attract butterflies: yarrow, milkweed, monkeyflower, coyote mint, salvia California goldenrod, San Diego sunflower, lilac verbena.

Here's the California native plant society with info on where to find native plants. A good native plant nursery will not only give you plants, but lots of information and help getting started. https://www.cnps.org/cnps/chapters/

Here's one nice native plant nursery with branches in LA and San Diego. I don't know where you are, but anyway their website is informative and has lots of nice pictures: https://www.laspilitas.com/stores/escondido

Here's one for Orange County (where I grew up) https://www.californianativeplants.com/

Come back and give us some response! You said you were "desperate" so don't disappear on us!
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Everything I Plant Dies - Desperate for HELP

Grrrrr ... this stuff is starting to make me crazy. Eventually I may have to give up forums, because this happens so much. Person writes in and says I am desperate for help... any help would be so appreciated. Gets four detailed responses full of helpful advice and can't be bothered to even acknowledge it. What did he/she want one sentence that would solve all the problems, so they wouldn't have to bother reading too much? Not too desperate, then. OP better not ask again!
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

imafan26
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Re: Everything I Plant Dies - Desperate for HELP

Well, hopefully someone else with the same issues can benefit from the advice and acknowledge it.

The only other things I would add to what has already been said is

The middle of summer is not the best time to put in a garden. Prepare the beds in the fall, plant in Spring and enjoy in summer. Plants need time for their roots to settle in and that is best done in well prepared soil in the cooler months of the year. If you do summer planting, the plants will need to be watered frequently, often a couple of times a day.
Ferns don't really like to be out in the sun, they prefer moist shade. I have grown ferns in the sun, but they are well established and they get a lot of water. The tips of the ferns will still brown out in the summer heat.

Annuals do well in summer, but I grow most of my annuals from seed. It is a lot cheaper that way and plants grown in place will usually do better under stressful conditions, or they won't germinate at all.

Roses are best planted during specific times of the year depending on where you live. If you buy roses it is best to get it from a catalog company. You will get a quality rose sent at the right time for planting and there is usually a guarantee if the rose fails within a specific period. Roses from box stores already planted in pots are usually good, but again I would keep them in their pots until a cooler time of the year. Newly planted roses need to be cut back and watered a couple of times a day until they are established.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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DDMcKenna
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Re: Everything I Plant Dies - Desperate for HELP

rainbowgardener wrote:Grrrrr ... this stuff is starting to make me crazy. Eventually I may have to give up forums, because this happens so much. Person writes in and says I am desperate for help... any help would be so appreciated. Gets four detailed responses full of helpful advice and can't be bothered to even acknowledge it. What did he/she want one sentence that would solve all the problems, so they wouldn't have to bother reading too much? Not too desperate, then. OP better not ask again!
I think they should reply because the help you guys give is invaluable. I really appreciate how much help I have received. I think it's wrong to take advantage of great help and not acknowledge it properly but maybe I can see giving her a week. Might be someone that works and only gets computer time once a week. So I don't think I'd be too concerned before that much time. Your help has been a great inspiration. I love your replies.

pow wow
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Re: Everything I Plant Dies - Desperate for HELP

I agree with you rainbowgardener. Would it kill a person to be polite?

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ElizabethB
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Re: Everything I Plant Dies - Desperate for HELP

RBG - as bad, if not worse, is when multiple responses suggest that the questioner is needs to do things differently but they insist n doing it their way. Why even ask if you are not open to change? -wall-
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When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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pinksand
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Re: Everything I Plant Dies - Desperate for HELP

imafan26 wrote:Well, hopefully someone else with the same issues can benefit from the advice and acknowledge it.
I often don't have the same questions at the time, but find that reading threads like this are educational for when I do encounter a similar problem or have a friend or family member who asks the same question of me. Information provided on forums is invaluable to me because it's coming from so many different people with varying levels of experience, which to me is the very best way to learn. Informational websites and articles are fine, but the education I receive from forums seems to stick better because it's using a real life example.

Even if the OP never came back, you can know that at least someone read all the responses and came away with some information. I'm sure others find posts like this helpful as well, just don't often post a response to say so.
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