Very basic questions for a beginner.
I am in my 3rd season of butterfly gardening. I've questions that are so basic any one of you more experienced gardeners can answer. I'd very much appreciate it.
Question 1) When should I water my plants? What time of day? Water them like rain would (getting the whole plant wet) or watering at the base. I've always believed, and so someone must have once told me, to water after sunset and at the base of the plant.
Question 2) When opening new space for gardening, what are some basic steps to follow. I'd like to build one for my mother but would have to start with just basic lawn. Do I just rent one of those machines that 'plow' up soil and plant in to the resulting grassless area? Spray an herbicide to kill the grass then use that machine? Should I add anything to the soil?
Question 3) I recently put in four kinds of plants into my garden and one into my yard. Of the garden ones, the Lantana and Daylilies did fine; w/ coneflowers had one die and two live but with butterfly bush (Buddleja) all 3 died. The plant I put in my yard was a Dwarf Bottlebrush. It too is dead. These deaths happened IN A WEEK! I put in 2 12" b-bushes last fall and now they are about 8' high. Same yard, same nursery. My theories are: the soil is exceptionally clay-y and so holds water. It rained off and on for 2 days riht after planting them. The ones from last season have the benefit of having been planted underthe eaves of my house and so were protected from this. Also, it has been very hot (i'm in baton rouge, louisiana). Is that a likely explanation? Any ideas how to deal with this much clay?
Question 4) If heat affects how a newly planted plant will do, is my planting 'window' now closed?
Thank you for helping this beginner. My previous gardening skills were putting in new trees when we lost 13 (!!!) 60-80' trees during hurricane Gustav. They were all but one of them pine trees - which I've never cared for. So I was able to start from scratch using interesting trees - mostly fruit plus gingko and dawn redwood and why I'm bothering you with this I don't know. I do know I have no use for annuals. It seems like an incredible waste to keep buying plants each year. I'm hooked on gardening but have no idea what I'm doing.