Thursday, October 18, 2007

Planting plants

All the instructions for planting plants seem to assume that you have an entirely new, empty flower bed, a truckload of farmyard manure standing by and a careful design with every plant in its proper place. If this is you then I suggest you stop reading now and get back out into the garden. Many of us have to either plant a single shrub or tree as a 'feature' or (heaven forbid) fill a hole left by a poor unfortunate plant that did not make it. This is pretty well all my planting. A few tips that I have gathered from locals and Beth Chatto in her excellent book 'The Dry Garden'.

  • Plant during either autumn or early spring - don't even think about planting between May and September.
  • Put the plant in its pot to soak in a bucket of water and leave it until any bubbles stop.
  • Dig a decent sized hole. The poor little roots need help in breaking through the concrete-like soil.
  • Mix some stallatico manure in the soil at the bottom of the hole. When the local vivaio planted some pine trees for me they used a whole bag per tree.
  • Fill the hole with water and let it sink in. It will be difficult to get water down under the roots later.
  • Take the plant out of its pot. If it is pot-bound you might tease out some of the roots to get them started in the right direction.
  • Put the plant in the hole and replace the soil around it, mixing in some more stallatico as you go.
  • Firm the soil with your foot and if possible leave a little raised 'dish' around the base of the plant to stop water running off.
  • Water it thoroughly and continue to do so until it is established.
  • Cross fingers and hope it makes it.


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