Top tips on planting
One of the biggest benefits of gardening is seeing the fruits of your labour and it’s important to get the most from your garden by creating something you can take pride in. One of the easiest ways to maintain a garden you can enjoy is to ensure that you care for it properly - and this begins with preparation and planting. So what should you be planting at specific times of the year? This guide will give you our top tips on planting so you’ll get the very best out of your patch of land.
First things first…
- Always water plants for the garden well before planting. A prolonged soak in a bucket of water is the best way to prepare hardy plants before planting.
- Create a saucer like depression, formed by a ring of soil approximately 30cm from the plant. This will reduce “run off” when watering.
- Water plants in thoroughly after planting and do not allow them to dry out in dry weather. New plants will also benefit from daily overhead spraying in the spring.
- Mulching new plants helps considerably to retain moisture, keep the soil cool and reduce competition from weeds.
- Climbing plants should be planted no less than 30cm from the base of a wall or fence to avoid unnecessary drying out.
- Some varieties of trees and shrubs e.g. Crataegus, Hibiscus, Laburnum and Wisteria sometimes fail to break into leaf until mid-summer. To determine whether a plant is alive, scrape the bark with the thumbnail or knife blade. The layer just underneath the surface will be moist and green if the plant is alive. Make the test low down.
- Many plants will benefit if the soil is enriched with well-rotted manure, compost or a similar soil conditioner before planting. Using a fertiliser such as bone meal will encourage new roots to establish quickly.
Whilst some plants will always have a specific planting season, generally speaking most hardy garden plants will particularly benefit from planting in the autumn, especially as our summers get increasingly drier. At this time the soil will still be warm from the summer sun and rainfall will have replenished moisture levels to provide ideal growing conditions for adventurous new roots. You will still find a very wide selection of plants at this time of year and bare rooted hedging plants are usually available from November. The following plants will benefit from being planted in the autumn.
Trees are suitable for planting between October and April. A planting hole should be dug to a depth of 60cm and 1m in diameter. The sub soil (below the surface) should be thoroughly loosened but not brought to the surface and well-rotted manure should be mixed in with the sub soil. Be sure to retain the topsoil for filling in around the roots. Remember not to plant too deeply; look to the soil ring on the stem of your tree just above the root for the correct planting depth. Fine soil should be worked in around the rootball and made firm by treading, finally finishing off with the remainder of the top soil, which should also be firmly trodden. The land may ‘heave’ (expand) during frosts and should be re-firmed in early April. It’s best not to plant when the ground is waterlogged.
Be sure to stake and tie all of the trees you plant. Get the stake in position before the tree is planted and secured using purpose-made tree ties. We recommend angling stakes at 45 degrees to the ground and into the prevailing wind for optimum support. Check ties regularly and adjust them as the tree grows.
Try to prevent grass and weeds from growing around newly planted trees for at least two seasons, or longer if possible. A ring of clean soil 1m in diameter will aid the successful development of the tree.
Trees can be planted at any time of year if they are container grown and regularly watered during the first summer.
Shrubs can also be planted any time but autumn planting helps the roots develop better and resist droughts. Planting is the same as for trees but remember to make holes proportionately smaller. Normally a depth of 35 45cm and a diameter of 60 x 90cm should be enough. When planting a border or shrubbery the whole area should be dug, and the sub soil broken up with a fork.
A rose fertiliser should be used to feed all types of roses and flowering shrubs; this will contain exactly the right balance of nutrients and trace elements for your new plants to thrive.
Spring and summer planting
Half-hardy plants should be planted outdoors once the risk of frost has passed, but this is also the time to plant the more tender evergreens such as Cistus. If cold nights still threaten immediately after planting, protect the new shoots by draping fleece material over the plants. Mulching is always a wise precaution when planting at this time of year in order to conserve moisture and be sure to give your new plants generous amounts of water. The following will all benefit from being planted in the spring
Clematis plants are grown in pots and can be transplanted at any time, but particularly in the spring months. Any normal, well prepared, drained soil will be suitable, but firm planting is essential. The top of the ball, root and soil should be 5cm below the level of the bed after planting and you should add a small single hand full of bone meal to help each plant thrive and minimise the danger of “Clematis Wilt’’, when stems of apparently healthy plants suddenly collapse. Cutting all infected growth to ground level may induce the plant to produce new shoots.
Some varieties will grow in any aspect, but all varieties must have a shaded, cool root run. Small shrubs will provide sufficient shade to meet this requirement.
Container-grown plants enable planting to be successfully undertaken throughout the year with little or no check or risk of failure, however, greater care has to be taken to ensure adequate watering is given during our increasingly dry seasons.
To encourage the plant roots to leave the root ball the planting site should be well cultivated and organic matter (such as manure or compost) and phosphates (bone meal or super phosphate) are incorporated. Ensure that container-grown plants are saturated before planting. It may be necessary to submerge the plant for half an hour in a bucket of water.
The plant should be carefully knocked out of the pot, taking care not to damage any young roots which may be round the sides of the container. Large roots girdling the compost should be gently “teased” out and fine soil run in around them. Position the plant in a prepared hole with the top of the root ball about one inch below existing soil level. Fill in with friable soil and firm up. Water in to settle, then apply a surface mulch of bark to conserve moisture and to keep down the weeds.
Year round planting
Container gardening has grown enormously as a way of enjoying plants we may otherwise be unable to enjoy in the natural environment of our gardens. Container plants can be enjoyed all year round, but they particularly flourish between mid-spring and early autumn. Careful positioning of the container and considered selection of the compost provides the plant with its ideal growing environment.
Ericaceous compost is perfect for all lime hating plants such as Rhododendrons and Camellias, which all thrive in containers. For most trees, shrubs, roses and perennials which are to become permanent features, we recommend using a mixture of soil-based and soil-less compost in order to gain the advantages of both.
Always ensure you select a container with ample drainage holes to avoid water logging and place some coarse material in the base before filling with compost. Firm the compost as you fill the pot and don’t fill to the top of the pot so you allow some room for water to sit and penetrate the surface.
Regular feeding is the key to successful container gardening and most garden centres stock a range of slow release and controlled release fertilisers that can be added and re-added to your containers to ensure a constant supply of nutrients when your plants need them.