We have heard all manner of amusing and unbelievable stories about what people have done to their plants in the process of settling them into their new homes. Whilst this has provided us with a chuckle from time to time, having heard of the demise of plants that we have sold, we have been encouraged to write this!
Firstly, choose a site that meets the criteria of the likes and dislikes of the plant as specified on the label or by our salespeople. Degrees of sunlight exposure, frost hardiness, water and soil needs and wind protection must all be carefully considered. And of course it must fit into your planting scheme in the overall landscape, so consider its height and width when fully grown.
Once you have chosen your growing position dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball of the tree, shrub or perennial. If the soil is free draining and you need water retention you can add some well rotted organic matter such as compost or animal fertilisers e.g. sheep pellet and mix it with some loose soil in the hole. Well rotted compost is a dry, very crumbly, odourless substance, whereas partially rotted compost is wet and heavy and sticks together in clumps. The latter will burn the roots, so do not use it. Do not be tempted to put great handfuls of fertiliser in the planting hole as this will only damage the tender new emerging roots as well. You can however use a measured amount of slow release fertiliser, but it is preferable to sprinkle it on top of the soil once the plant has been planted. It's important to get this step right, as this will not only help the structure, drainage and fertility of the soil, but will provide your plant with a happy place to set down new roots and grow strong.
If the plant is going to need support, place a stake in the planting hole before placing the plant in position as this way you do not damage the roots by ramming a fat stake into the earth, and you get it in deep enough so that it supports the plant.
Remove the plant from its bag, use scissors to cut away the plastic or if it is in a pot, lay the pot on its side on the grass and gently press on the sides to loosen the root ball inside. You should then be able to gently pull the plant out of the pot.
Be aware that it is possible that the plant may have been recently bagged or potted and that the roots may not have had time to hold the mix together and it may fall away. This is fine as long as you spread the loose roots out into a fan shape in the hole before covering them. It is obviously best to disturb the roots as little as possible. Before placing the plant in the hole, gently scrape away the top 1 cm of potting mix from around the trunk or stem, exposing the fine root hairs and removing any weed seed that may be lurking there, and then place it in the hole. Add some soil on the top to replace the 1 cm that you removed, taking great care not to position it any lower or higher than the level of the potting mix when it was in the bag or pot.
Now fill the rest of the hole with loose, crumbly soil rather than great heavy clods of turf. Tamp the soil down until the hole is filled and the root ball is snugly tucked in. Apply a layer of mulch to the soil but keep it clear of the trunk of the tree or this could cause collar rot.
Water in well with a gentle stream of water taking care not to disturb the soil or compost. To conserve water and ensure that the roots get the most benefit from it, create a small basin around the plant until it is established.
Choose the appropriate site
Dig and prepare the hole
Insert stakes - if required
Prepare the plant for planting
Place into position (don't bury your plant!)
Cover plant with fresh soil; tamp down firmly
Tie plant to stake(s) - if appropriate
If you are planting a hedge it is a good idea to use a string line to make a nice straight line to follow when you cut your edge for the planting area. Clear the area of weeds and grass. Dig your holes at even centres. A good rule of thumb is plant at half of the anticipated finished height so if your hedge will reach 2 meters then plant at meter centres. Dig all holes, plant as above.
Wairere Nursery 826 Gordonton Road, R D 1, Hamilton Ph: (07) 824 3430 Email: Open 7 days 8:30am-5pm