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Planting

How to plant trees, shrubs and climbers

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Whether you buy trees and shrubs in a container or with their roots bare doesn’t matter, as long as the plant is healthy. The advantage of containerised plants in that they can be planted at any time of the year, provided weather conditions are fair, and the soil is not frozen, covered with snow or waterlogged.

WHEN TO PLANT?
Refer to our section on seasonal gardening for an overview of when to plant, otherwise refer to the plant itself

PREPARING FOR PLANTING.
Before planting, make sure that the root ball is moist right through. If not, stand the plant in water for several hours with the roots completely submerged.
Plant bare-rooted plants as soon as possible, preferably in autumn while the soil is still warm, or during spring in cold, exposed parts of the country. However, you can’t go far wrong if you plant evergreens in early to mid-autumn or mid to late spring, and deciduous trees and shrubs between mid-autumn and early spring when soil and weather conditions are favourable. If planting is delayed for some time, heel the plants into a piece of spare ground or place them in a cold greenhouse. Packaged bare-rooted plants can be left in their wrappings for 2-3 weeks (provided they are not dry at their roots) in a cool but frost-free place. When transporting bare-rooted plants from a garden centre, protect the roots with sacking or a strong plastic bag to prevent them drying out. If the soil is very dry, water copiously during the first season after planting.

HOW DEEP A HOLE?
The hole for planting must be deep enough and wide enough to accommodate the roots comfortably. Check the depth by placing the plant, still in its container, in the hole. When set in the ground, it should be at the same depth as it was in its container. Plant bare-rooted specimens up to the soil mark left from its nursery container on the main stem. To get the depth exactly right, place a piece of wood across the hole and line up the soil mark against it. Scatter a handful of bone meal in the bottom of the hole, and lightly fork another handful into the soil to be replaced. Spread manure or garden compost under and around the root area and, if the ground is dry, soak the planting area thoroughly.

THE IMPORTANCE OF STAKING.
All trees need the support of a stake in the early years of growth. Drive the stake firmly into the bottom of the planting hole on the side of the tree that is exposed to the prevailing wind.
Leave about 2-3ft above ground, so as to anchor the roots and allow the top to move slightly.
Carefully remove the plant from its container, loosen a few roots and then lower the plant into the hole close to the stake. Fill with the soil you removed, using your fingers to make sure that no space is left between the root ball and the sides of the hole. When the hole is full, firm the plant in with your feet. Secure the plant to the stake with a tree tie tacked to the stake to keep it in position. Finally, apply a mulch such as pulverised bark or well-rotted garden compost. Deal with bare-rooted trees and shrubs in much the same way, but cut off any badly damaged roots cleanly with sharp secateurs and spread the remaining ones evenly in the hole. When planting bare-rooted roses, cut back the thickest roots to encourage fibrous growth. After planting, prune the top back to a healthy bud.

SPECIAL SOIL REQUIREMENTS.
If you have an alkaline soil you can still grow acid-loving plants, such as rhododendrons and azaleas, by making a raised bed and adding peat to the soil at a ratio two parts peat to one part non-chalky soil.
However, enthusiasts for the plants excepted, many gardeners may find it simpler to choose plants that suit the existing soil.
Prepare the ground well for climbing plants, as the soil at the bottom of a fence, wall or trellis may be dry and impoverished. Where possible, give each plant a hole 2ft square and 2ft deep. Put in plenty of well-rotted organic matter and grit of coarse, sharp sand if the soil is heavy. Position any climbing supports before planting.
Plant clematis 304in deeper than other climbers, so that if clematis wilt should occur there will be enough healthy buds below ground to grow after the plant has been cut down.

HERBACEOUS PLANTS
If starting from scratch, plan a herbaceous border on paper well before planting, taking into consideration heights, colours, leaf textures, habit and time of flowering. Then mark the positions in the border with pegs and labels. Generally do your planting during autumn or spring, although containerised plants can go in at any time provided the ground is not frozen or waterlogged. Make sure that the root balls are thoroughly soaked, especially if they have been in peat pots or pre-packed. Dig the planting hole of a shape and size to allow the roots to spread comfortably, and at a depth to the level of the crown – the point where the stems and roots join. Firm the plant in and water thoroughly if the soil is dry.

WATER GARDEN TECHNIQUES.
Aquatic plants should be set in planting baskets lined with Hessian and filled with a good quality heavy loam. Avoid using such organic material as manure which encourages algae and could kill the fish. Plant firmly and top off with a layer of gravel. Containerised deep-water plants can be planted at any time of the year, but it is preferable to plant in spring when the water has begun to warm up.
Group the marginal water plants in twos and threes around the pool edge for the best effect. Marginals prefer no more than 2-3in of water over their roots, so you will need a ledge at the correct depth or bricks to support the containers. Deep water plants should be placed at a depth of 2-3ft.

ALPINES
Water pot-grown alpines before planting, and give them enough space to spread. Don’t plant them too deep as the lower leaves or the crown mat rot. Spread a layer of gravel around them to allow air to circulate beneath the foliage.

ANNUALS AND BIENNIALS
Annuals can be planted mid-spring to early summer, depending on the location and the type of plant. Begin with the hardier ones, such as antirrhinums and pansies, and finish with the more tender types such as salvias, asters and ageratums. Before planting, water the containers and allow the plants to absorb the moisture before moving them. During dry periods, puddle them in – fill the planting hole with water and allow it to soak in. then set the plant in place and fill the hole with soil.
Create a more natural effect by planting in irregular patches. Space the plants close enough to leave no gaps when they reach maturity. This will help them support themselves and keep weeds to the minimum.
Biennials that have been in a nursery bed during summer go into their final position in early autumn. Before lifting them prepare the plant hole and water well. If you intend to integrate the plants with bulbs, plant the biennials first and the bulbs afterwards.


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