The target plant concept in planting nursery


The Target Plant Concept is a new way of looking at nurseries and the uses of native plants.

It is a way to think through the entire nursery and out planting process and to encourage communication between clients and nursery managers.

The Target Plant Concept is based on three simple but often overlooked ideas.

1. Start at the Out-planting Site

Without the concept, a nursery produces a crop of plants that are provided to clients. With this one-way system, clients have little control over the type or quality of plants they receive. With the concept, the process is approached in a completely different manner: starting with the characteristics of the out-planting site, clients specify exactly what type of plant material would be best.

2. The Nursery and Client Are Partners

Without the concept, clients seek plants solely by price or availability. With the concept, the client specifies the ideal type of plant for the project, the nursery grows the plants, and they are out-planted. Based on the performance of this first crop, the client and nursery manager work together to make necessary changes to improve survival and growth. Using these revised target plant characteristics, the nursery grows another crop that is again evaluated on the project site. This feedback system fosters good communication between native plant customers and nursery managers, builds partnerships, and ensures the best possible plants for the project.

3. Emphasis on Seedling Quality

Without the concept of quality, inexperienced growers and clients think there are cheap, all-purpose native plants that will thrive just about anywhere. With the concept, it is clear that plant quality cannot be described at the nursery, but can only be proven on the out-planting site. A beautiful crop of plants in the nursery may perform miserably if they are inappropriate for conditions on the out-planting site.

What Type of Plant Material Site Characteristics for Nursery?

(1). Seeds are an ideal type of plant material that is easy to handle, store, and out-plant. The effectiveness of direct seeding on the project site varies with the species of plants, the harshness of the site, the objectives of the project, and the project timeframe. Seeds of many diverse species require special cleaning and processing before they can be sown. Direct seeding is most successful for grasses, forbs, and some woody shrubs, the seeds of which can be easily produced in bare-root beds in nurseries.

(2). Rootstock: refers to specialized roots, such as bulbs and corms, and modified underground stems, such as rhizomes and tubers. Rootstock can be used for the vegetative propagation of certain grasses and wetland plants. Grass and sedge rhizomes and root sections have been successfully used for wildland out plantings.

(3). Non-rooted Cuttings: Many riparian and wetland species can be successfully propagated on the project site by collecting cuttings and planting them immediately without roots.

(4). Rooted Cuttings: A much shorter stem section can be used but it should have a healthy bud near the top.

(5). Bare root seedlings: are grown in the ground and harvested without soil around their roots. Because they require a considerable amount of high-quality soil and often take longer to reach a shippable size, fewer species of native plants are grown as bare rootstock. One serious drawback of bare-root stock is that seedlings need much better storage and post-harvest care than container stock does.
(6). Container seedlings: are a newer stock type than bare-root and continue to increase in popularity. Many different types of containers are being used, and all require artificial growing mediums. The distinguishing feature of container seedlings is that, because the roots are restricted, they bind growing media into a cohesive plug.

What Is the Best Season for Out-planting?
Conditions on most native plant project sites are harsh and nursery stock often suffers severe “transplant shock”. Each site has an ideal time when chances for native plant survival and growth are greatest; this is known as the “out-planting window”. This period is usually defined by the limiting factors such as soil moisture, temperature, etc are the usual constraints.

One real advantage of container plants is that they can be started at different dates and then cultured to be physiologically conditioned for out-planting during various

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