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Trees and Shrubs : Planting

Make the planting hole wide enough

Make the planting hole wide enough

Trees and shrubs are sold either as container-grown plants or in the traditional way as field-grown, bare-root stock. Deciduous bare-root plants are planted from the beginning of November to the end of March. Evergreen bare-root plants are planted in October or April. Container-grown plants can be planted at any time of year, even in high summer. However, they establish best if planted during the traditional planting months.

Before planting, soak the roots of the plants in water. Allow container-grown plants to drain for a while afterwards. Make up a planting mix of moist peat with a handful of general fertiliser or Tree and Shrub Fertiliser added to each bucketful.

Completely remove any grass or weeds – spray with Roundup to kill existing weeds if necessary. Dig over the area where the planting hole will be, breaking down the soil lumps.
Dig out the hole. When planting in a lawn area, place the removed soil on polythene sheeting to avoid messing up the grass.

Make the hole deep enough and wide enough to take the roots or rootball. Break up the soil in the bottom of the hole. Add a 5 centimetre layer of the planting mix and mix it with the soil in the bottom of the hole. Drive in a support stake at this stage, if a tree is being planted. A short stake is best unless the tree stem is tall and weak.

Place the plant in the hole and spread out the roots. Check that it is the same depth as it was previously planted – look for the soil mark on the stem. For container-grown, make the hole deep enough to leave the top of the compost just level with the soil surface. Be sure to avoid planting too deeply, which is a common cause of poor establishment.

Do not set the roots deeper than the soil mark

Do not set the roots deeper than the soil mark

Add some fine soil and planting mix. Work this in around the roots by giving the tree a little shake. Firm gently. Add more soil and firm again. Leave the soil surface neat. Water immediately after planting with about 10 litres of water per plant. If a stake is used, tie in the tree using two ties, one near the top and one half way down, unless a short stake is used, in which case one tie will be enough.

Be patient – do not expect results immediately after planting. Many shrubs take a few years before starting to flower. Although the shrub might be in flower at planting, or perhaps flowers in its first year, this flowering can be deceptive because it is caused by the restriction of the nursery container. When the tree roots gain the liberty of the open soil, the plant often skips flowering for a few seasons. Do not prune plants that have done this because it further delays flowing.

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