Our soil is clay and the plants were in full sun and partial shade. The soil is well drained. The plants in partial shade died in succession from west to east, with no trace of leaves left and only the stick stem remaining. Is it safe to replant snowball bushes here? Is there something I could do to ensure the safety of the others? I have 5 plants left out of 12.

Peter Bowden Answered question July 5, 2020

Death off very recently planted shrubs can often be traced back to a couple of causes.   If they get planted too deep with the crown buried below the soil or if mulch is piled high “volcano-like” up against the stems they can die.  The other cause is under or over-watering.  The soil needs to be kept constantly moist the first growing season but not soggy wet or bone dry.  The fact that some survived suggests that it should be OK to replant but check below those plants and brush back any mulch or soil away from the stems several inches until you find the original soil that the plants came in and keep it that way.  Make sure to plant and mulch and water the new ones properly.

Peter Bowden Answered question July 5, 2020
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