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Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Craft of Planting

I am always amazed when I see quite experienced gardeners resorting to the make a hole, shove it and hope for the best method of planting. When you are on a remote site with an hour to plant a hundred shrubs, it can be sometimes hard to follow best practice. At home, you have time to get your plants off to a really good start.

1. Water your plants before planting. You can tell by the weight of the pot. If they are bone dry, submerse the pot in water until you can’t see any more air bubbles and leave them to drain.
2. Remove the pot. This may seem obvious but bedding plants in particular sometimes have pots within pots that severely restrict root growth. A saw is often useful for plants that are pot-bound.
3. Skim off the top 1cm or so of compost. Even if they are no visible weeds, it’s very likely to be full of weed seeds.
4. Look at the roots. Any roots that are growing in circles will keep growing round and round once they are planted. This is one of the most common causes of stunted growth, premature death, and for trees being blown down by the wind. Always cut off any curling or overlong roots.
5. Loosen the soil in the bottom of the hole so that it will be easy for new roots take hold. Throwing in any compost you can spare is a good idea. Opinions are mixed over adding fertilizer I the hole. Research suggests that the risk of scorching the roots may negate any nutritional benefits. I prefer a light sprinkling of Growmore on the surface after planting.
6. Trees and shrubs should be planted at the same height as they were in their pots. With herbaceous and bedding plants, you can set them slightly deeper. Firm plants with fists or your feet. You shouldn’t be able to pull them out easily after planting.
7. Water after planting (this helps settle the soil around the roots) and consider applying a bark mulch if only around the root area.

Written By Alistair Ayres

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