planting of your newly acquired containerized plants or lovingly
tended seed-sown planty teenagers (ready to face the world alone)
is vital if they are to survive and thrive well. Too many
plants are just plonked into a hole in the soil without thought
only to be remembered by the garden centre label that survives
as a grave-stone.
The first step in
planting whether it be a bed, several plants or just the one
is to to place them still in their pots on the bare (dug-over)
soil as here. This is when you pay attention not only to the
colour and shape of leaf and flower, but also the final size
of the plants and their likelihood of spreading or remaining
small and discrete. This is to be a perennials bed and there
are a few more to come.
in is a Red Hot Poker, Kniphofia. There are easier
ways of planting, but this is mine, I've put in thousands
of plants this way and it beats all others I've come across
- if you want to cut corners and save time, then stop reading
now, if you're prepared to make the effort and reap the
rewards, then keep going.
Step one is
to dig a hole about three times the volume of the pot or soil
ball of the plant you're putting in - yes that's
right 3 times - don't skimp.
picture is supposed to show the plant in a hole three times
bigger than the pot, but it's not so clear what's
going on. The important thing is don't skimp and make it
smaller. It will take you less than 5 minutes to dig this hole
probably - ok, it'll be a hard work 5 minutes - but compared
to the years that this plant will be in this position, it's
This may seem like a small
task when it's the first plant, but by the time you get
to no. 30 or 40 (if you've that many to go in) it becomes
a bit harder! but just as important. Just remember that another
few minutes now is nothing compared to the life of the plant
and if you really are too tired to do it properly, it's
best to stop now and start again tomorrow.
do we need to dig a hole 3 times bigger than the pot? So
we can incorporate lots of lovely organic matter into the planting
hole. You plant has until now resided in nice soft processed
compost for its tender little roots to feel comfy in. No matter
how lovely your soil is, it won't be as nice as what is
in its pot, so we need to make a transition zone from pot-compost
to soil without too large a jump in doing so.
I'm using garden compost here as I've
got lots of it. You can use this, well rotted farmyard compost,
old grow bags, peat or any other soil improver that comes in
the hole that you have dug loosely with your chosen organic
material. Don't worry about adding too much, as long
as you follow the rest of the instructions, it will be ok. It
will seem like all your hard work has been in vain as there's
no room for the plant. but don't worry, the next step makes
hard work - scrape back about half the soil that has been dug
out of the hole and vigorously mix it into the organic material
with your spade, chopping and twisting movements are effective
here - I'm doing it so well, the spade is all a blur! The
whole idea is that you place your new plant into a mixture of
soil and your chosen organic matter to act as a buffer zone
between what is in the pot until now and your raw unadulterated
soil. Your 3 x pot size hole now has a depression that is about
pot sized, though a different shape.
Note the soil - brown, and the added organic
matter - dark brown/black.
your left hand (if you are right handed) hold the plant around
the base of the stem and the soil. With your right hand
squeeze the pot gently one way and then the other until it is
free of the roots and can be lifted away from the plant and
root ball easily. Take care not to drop the plant at this point!
Scrape a large enough hollow for the plant to
go in with your free hand and place the plant with the top of
the compost level with the soil. Some people (on national TV
even!) claim that you need to tease out the roots so they don't
keep going around in circles. That's like saying that my
dog would stay 3 feet away from me if we went for a walk without
a lead - or maybe you believe that the world is flat - no you
don't need to tease out the roots.
the leaves together and out of the way (easy with this plant,
but not always so with others - do your best) and scrape the
loose soil and any spare organic matter back into the remains
of the hole so that there is a flat result with the plant sticking
out, and then keep going until the plant is the centre of a
small mound until you...
the soil down around the plant with your foot, be very careful
here, imagine you're knocking nails in around your baby's
cot without hitting the baby in the process. There's a very
delicate and easily damaged plant there and some pretty big
forces needed to firm the soil, hold the leaves out of the way
so they are not damaged (don't pull!).
(No pictures because I forgot) - final thing
is to give you newly planted introduction a good mulch or organic
material if you have any left, at least an inch deep and for
a 6 inch (12 is better) radius around the plant (careful not
to bury any leaves) and then a thorough watering in. The plant
may not need a drink as the compost and soil may be reasonably
moist, but the water is to settle the roots and mulch around
the plant, about 1/3 to 1/2 a 2 gallon (10L) can full is needed.
and admire work / go down pub / go and watch soap opera of choice
/ retire with gin and tonic / put another plant in / play game
in garden with children or dogs who have assembled to view proceedings...
...according to taste.