Ecesis (eh-SEE-sus) is the establishment of a plant in a new habitat.
According to some, ecesis refers to plants becoming newly established in areas that were barren or previously devastated. However you define it, a better understanding of ecesis you to help your plants thrive.
Note: In the past, I have lived in duplexes whose tiny patch of soil was nothing more than a moonscape. Apparently barren, it didn’t take long to create a lush, edible landscape. Before you start, however, you need to know that each time you plant a seed, install a seedling, or transplant an established plant into a different container or location, ecesis is a factor.
Once a plant is established, there is a whole lot more going on than meets the eye:
Moving this plant to a new location, or into a bigger container, is a shock that can slow or halt growth, temporarily or permanently. Soil microorganism must repopulate the area. Roots that are damaged or overly stressed during transplanting mean less water and minerals available to the aboveground portion of the plant. (Ever have a plant wilt on you after transplanting?) Below, you can read about the many factors of ecesis that may impact plants being added to your garden or landscape.
Light and temperature
Significant changes in light and temperature can be devastating, or they can be necessary to a plant’s development. Some plants won’t put out fruit without enough chilling hours. Some seeds won’t germinate without being exposed to fire or ice or other damage to the seed hull. Most plants need a period of acclimation, called hardening off, when moved from one environment to another. Too much sun all at once and tender seedlings can be scorched. For your plants to be the most successful, choose varieties suited to your microclimate, be it a balcony, a farm, or a suburban yard.
Wind and other airs
Plants added to an environment with more wind than they are used to are going to need more water. Wind dries plants out. Wind can also blow containers and tall plants over, risking breakage. Placing containers against walls or tying plants to stakes can help prevent these problems. Insufficient air flow, whether through plant structure and improper pruning, geography, other plants, or fencing can increase the chance of fungal diseases occurring.
Problems with pavement
Plants installed near sidewalks, driveways, and buildings face a unique set of potential problems. The pavement and concrete create a heat sink, exposing plants to much more heat than is good for them. Also, these structures are usually designed to move water away, which means plants may need extra irrigation. And even easier solution is to select plants that can handle a lot of heat and very little water. Container plants grown in dark colored pots face similar problems. The dark color absorbs heat and the limited amount of soil can mean frequent drying out.
From whence they came
Where a plant came from should always be taken into account when installing it someplace new:
Containers If a container plant is being moved into a larger pot, it is a good idea to keep it in the exact same environment, or a slightly more protective version of the same place, until the roots have a chance to recover.
Nurseries Plants grown in nurseries are accustomed to climate-controlled warmth and moisture; they are often infested with aphids and other pests; they may have been sprayed with pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides; they may be carrying diseases or weed seeds. It is a good idea to have a quarantine area for all new plants that reduces stress to them and the chance of infection to established plants.
Soil Seeds started in potting mix and container plants that are used to loose soil will need some help when being transplanted into the ground. This is especially true in the Bay Area, where we mostly have heavy clay soil. If you dig a hole in the ground, be sure to rough up the sides of the hole. Smooth clay is almost as impenetrable as a ceramic pot.
Just as we need a period of time to get used to a new home or job, plants need a little TLC when they are moved into a new environment. Providing this care ensures that the move will be a successful one!
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!