Prepare the site
Clear away any leaf litter or other organic matter from the surface of the soil.
Dig a hole as deep as the plant’s pot, and 2-3 times as wide – this extra width is especially important if the soil is hard or compacted. Make sure that if you’re planting in dense soils like clay, you don’t smooth the sides of the hole out too much or the roots won’t be able to penetrate the soil.
Use the plant in its pot to make sure the hole is the right size.
Plant the plant
- Carefully remove the plant from its pot – don’t hold or pull it by the stem as this can easily damage it. Instead, squeeze the pot’s base to loosen the roots, then hold the pot upside down with the plant’s stem between your fingers and squeeze the pot’s sides gently – the plant should slide easily out of the pot.
- Place the plant straight into the hole, ensuring that the stem emerges from the soil at ground level and it isn’t sitting too high or low. Fill in around the plant with soil, packing it in gently with your hands as you go.
- Press down gently but firmly around the base of the plant to ensure it is securely in the ground.
- Use any leftover soil to create a ‘dam wall’ around the plant. This will direct water straight to the plant and stop it running off.
- Add a layer of mulch 7-8cm deep around the plant, or replace any leaf litter you cleared before planting, to help retain soil moisture. Make sure it doesn’t touch the stem as this can cause collar rot, which will kill the plant.
It’s often said there are two things that will kill a plant – too much water, and not enough water.
Below are some guidelines to help you work out exactly how much to give your new plants to ensure their survival:
- You should always water the plants before planting them – this is important as it reduces the effects of transplant shock. Alternatively, place them upright (in their pots) in a bucket or tray of water prior to the planting
- Water thoroughly straight after planting too! Allow five litres per plant – this might sound like a lot but it will ensure the water penetrates deeper into the soil, encouraging the plant’s roots to grow downwards
- Let the soil absorb the water as you go – pour a little bit on then wait until it soaks in before adding more
- Give each plant another five litres of water once a week for 6-8 weeks after planting. It is more beneficial to give the plants a large amount of water all at once, rather than smaller amounts more often. Deep watering encourages deep roots, which will help your plant grow up big, strong and drought-tolerant
- If there is heavy rain during the week, you won’t need to water your plants. During summer, or when the weather is particularly hot and dry, consider watering more often.