SIX STEPS TO
Although theoretically, container-grown shrubs and bushes (ie those you buy in pots) can be planted in your garden at any time of the year, autumn is a great time as the ground is still warm from the summer and the newly planted shrubs will need less watering than they would if you’d planted them in spring.
So, once you’ve selected your plant according to the aspect of your garden, whether it’s evergreen or deciduous, and how big it’s going to grow (of course you’ve considered all the things haven’t you!) then there are a few simple rules to follow. Here goes:
- Before you start, water the plant very thoroughly. It’s vital that new plants never go short of moisture around their roots – in fact about 80% of plants that die in the first year after planting, do so because their roots dried out.
- Lay the pot on its side and, gripping the plant stem/s as near to the surface of the pot as possible, gently tease and pull the plant, releasing it from the pot with minimal damage.
- Tease out any pot-bound roots (evidence that the plant has outgrown its pot space). Magnolia and eucalyptus particularly resent root disturbance, so be careful with these plants and don’t tease their roots pot-bound or not!
- Dig a hole that is no deeper than the roots, but is about three times the diameter of the root system. Deep planting prevents essential air movement to the root system and makes the lower trunk vulnerable to disease – this can lead to poor establishment. Measure the hole width using a stick or cane – don’t guess! If the soil at the sides of the hole is solid and compacted, loosen it with a fork – this makes it easier for the roots to penetrate properly and establish well. Mix the soil you’ve removed with well-rotted organic matter (compost). You’ll be using this for filling in the hole.
- Place the plant in the centre of the hole, positioning it so that the first flare of roots is level with the soil surface when planting is complete. You may need to scrape away the top layer of the compost in the pot to reveal the flare of roots. Make sure the plant is facing the way you want it to (shrubs and bushes often have a front and back just like we do!). Fill in the gaps with the soil mixture and gently firm the soil around the plant. This will get rid of any air pockets and ensure that the plant is secure.
- Water the plant (at least a full watering can) and cover the area with a generous layer of mulch (chipped bark is good). This will help slow down weed growth and minimise moisture loss. Continue to water for several days (more if it’s there’s no rain).