Planting is one of the most enjoyable and important jobs that you’ll do in the garden. Plants aren’t cheap – the last thing you want is for them to curl up and die within a few weeks of planting.
Because nowadays, most plants are container-grown, planting can be carried out at any time of year, except when the soil is frozen or flooded. Bare root plants are only available from October to February when they’re dormant, and need to be planted straightaway.
So, whether you’re planting new acquisitions, or are moving plants within your own garden, follow these simple tips for successful planting. It looks complicated but it isn’t. After a few planting sessions it’ll be second nature.
- Ensure ground is free of weeds. Clear it if necessary taking care to remove perennials weeds such as dandelions, thistles, ground elder and bindweed.
- If the plant has dried out in its container soak it until the compost is thoroughly wetted.
- Soak bare-rooted plants in a bucket of water for an hour
- Dig a planting holes larger than the rootball of the plant and loosen the soil in the bottom of the holes and round the sides
- Choose a planting mixture from the recipes below and mix together
- Fork about half the planting mixture into the bottom of the planting hole and mix the rest with the soil you have dug out. Aim to have half soil and half planting mixture
- Place plant in hole. If plant is bare rooted, spread the roots out evenly. If it’s container-grown, tease out some of the roots to help them establish more quickly
- Water in well and allow water to drain away.
- Fill in firmly with the remaining soil/planting mixture. Any excess can be spread thinly over the garden
- Firm soil around top of plant by treading in lightly and water in thoroughly – this is especially important in hot dry weather.
- Mulch with New Horizon Mulch & Mix
- Water regularly until plant is established. You’ll know it’s established when you see it making new growth.
- In hot weather you may need to water twice a week.
Special tips when moving established plants
It can be hard to move established plants, especially if they are large and have been growing for some years. Plants that have brittle roots or long tap roots are tricky but with a bit of preparation and a lot of digging, most plants can be successfully moved.
For perennials and dwarf shrubs, water the plant thoroughly the day before. Dig out the new planting holes before you start to move the plant and make up your planting mixture. Dig down around the plant, trying not to damage the rootball, put it onto a plastic sheet and ease it into its new site, making sure it will be at the same level in the soil. Water in well, then follow the instructions given above.
For large shrubs, it is best to start preparing several months in advance, by digging a large trench deep around the plant – this will encourage it to form new feeding roots. Make sure the rootball doesn’t dry out at any time. When moving time comes just follow the instructions above.
It’s best not to move established plants in periods of drought – if you do have to, you must be prepared to water thoroughly for two or three months.
Recipies for Planting Mixtures
Trees, Shrubs, Roses
- If you use J. Arthur Bower’s Rose Tree & Shrub Compost no extra feeding will be required for first season.
Lime-hating plants - e.g. Camellias, Azaleas Rhododendrons and some Heathers
- J Arthur Bower’s Moss Peat or Ericaceous Compost will give these plants the pH they like.
- Add 35g of Bonemeal per 5 litres of peat or compost.
- Use rainwater to water in if available
- J. Arthur Bower’s or New Horizon Multi-Purpose Compost plus some Bone Meal.
- If you’re planting Hostas or other plants that hate to dry out you can add some J. Arthur Bower’s Water Retaining Crystals as well.
- For plants that need good drainage add 1 part Coarse Grit to 3 parts compost.
- J. Arthur Bower’s or New Horizon Multi-Purpose Compost plus some Bonemeal.
- J. Arthur Bower’s Moss Peat or Multi-Purpose Compost mixed 50/50 with J. Arthur Bower’s Coarse Grit plus a small amount of Bonemeal.
- J. Arthur Bower’s or New Horizon Multi-Purpose Compost plus Bonemeal.
- For bulbs that need good drainage such as many lilies add 1 part Coarse Grit to 3 parts compost. Lilies also like having some Coarse Grit trickled into the planting hole if you have heavy soil