Transplanting and Caring for Plugs
Plugs are a reliable and economical way to cover a large area, provided appropriate care is given in the initial stages. As relatively young plants with shallower, less developed root systems, plugs require more initial care - both before and after planting - than our typical 1 gallon and larger crops.
We water the plugs thoroughly the day they are to be picked up. It's recommended to water the plugs again as soon as they arrive at their destination. While 1 gallon or 5 gallon plants can typically be watered in their pots and safely left for a day or two, plugs require checking for dryness at least twice a day until they are planted. If they dry out they may still look green, but will either be severely set back or killed. For this reason it's important to order plugs as close to the planting date as possible and have a plan in mind for their care until they are planted. Since this will (hopefully) be a matter of a few days at most, err on the side of placing plants in more shade and watering more heavily than one would for the long term. Afternoon shade and a thorough watering at least once a day are our recommendations. If it is hot or windy, shade all day, even for sun loving species, and a morning and afternoon watering may be advisable.
As with any plant the planting bed should be moist before plants are planted. Loosen roots thoroughly with a metal fork for good establishing. This step is sometimes skipped in large installations due to the time involved, but this leads to higher losses. Loosening the roots not only leads to the plants establishing faster, it also improves their ability to take up water from the surrounding soil. If plugs are planted without the roots being loosened, there is poor contact between the rootball and the surrounding soil, often leading to the core of the plant remaining bone dry even if the garden bed is well watered.
After planting, be sure that whatever irrigation method is used is dialed in carefully - poorly placed drip emitters or misaligned sprinklers will lead to large losses very quickly with plants whose root systems measure less than 2x2". Unlike larger plants, we recommend mulching right up to the edge of the plant, being careful not to bury it. Soil moisture should be checked on a regular basis to make sure that plants are not completely drying out between waterings.