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Plant Growing - How and When to Plant

This section deals with giving an overview of trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennial and fruit that might be bought at a garden centre, nursery or online shop.

When you buy plants they are either sold as:
  • Bare root plants
  • Containerised plants
  • Container plants

How and When to Plant Bare Root Plants

These are plants that have been grown outdoors in a field. They are lifted from the field once the plants are dormant, ie they have stopped growing for the year.

They are then usually held in the retail shop in a holding area where the roots have been covered with earth and hessian to protect them from the frost. If ordering bare root plants online ensure that when you receive them they are wrapped up well with hessian and soil to ensure the roots are kept alive and have not dried out. I would not recommend buying bare root trees and shrubs for planting in the spring as the establishment may be difficult.

Ideally, bare root trees and shrubs should only be planted in the late autumn to early winter whilst the soil is still warm. This gives a chance for plants to establish some new roots as that is there natural reaction after being disturbed such as when they are removed from the field.

Bare root plants of some perennials and soft fruit such as strawberries are able to be planted at most times of the year as their root structure is much more fibrous and there is less damage to the roots when they are lifted. Although watering is essential for good establishment.

How and When to Plant Containerised Plants

These are plants that have initially been grown in the field and are then put in a container to finish off growing before being sold. It is an accepted practice for growing on of many types of plants. They may also be mentioned as potted plants.

Occasionally, these plants may be inferior as they have not been grown on long enough in the pots to have developed new roots and in effect are like bare root plants. If you are unsure squeeze the side of the pot and if it can easily be squeezed it is probably not a good plant to buy as it might mean there is air in the pot or there is very little root.

Containerised plants grown well are just as good as container plants. Some examples of pants are roses, fruit trees, perennials and many others.

How and When to Plant Container Grown Plants

These are plants that have started their life in containers. Usually grown from seed or cuttings and potted on into larger pots at different stages to ensure the best possible growth of roots and top growth.

Container plants can be planted at any time of the year providing that they are kept well watered to make sure the plant is not put under stress in the hot weather. The roots need to be kept moist to encourage root growth.

Container plants are likely to cost more to buy than either bare root or containerised plants as they cost more to grow.

How to Plant

When planting there are always some basic rules to remember:

  • The roots of the plant whether from a pot or bare root must be fully watered so that the plant is fully hydrated. Place the roots in water for 30 minutes.
  • Dig the hole for the plant so that there is plenty of room for the roots to grow in. Making sure the soil is broken up at the bottom to allow for drainage and allow the roots to grow into it.
  • If the soil is dry then pour water into it and allow it to drain through.
  • Mix in organic matter such as well-rotted compost/manure (not peat) with the soil in the hole.
  • Add some Rootgrow, mycorrhizal fungi, which enables the plant roots to take up nutrients and water more efficiently.
  • Place the plant roots in the hole and gradually fill the hole with soil.
  • Lightly firm the soil to get rid of any air pockets.
  • Water the ground so that the surrounding soil is moist and will also help to settle the soil around the plant.
  • If you wish to restrict the roots so that the plant does not get too big or prevent roots spreading then plant into a Rootex product.
  • Water regularly until the plant has established. Rule of thumb is to water with a rose and count for 5 seconds. This will give enough water so that it goes down into the soil to the plant’s roots. If possible, water in the evening so that there is less evaporation. If you have to water during the day when there is strong sunlight make sure you do not get the foliage or flowers wet as this will often cause scorch. Do not water every day unless extremely dry. The soil under the roots needs to be kept moist so that the roots grow towards the moisture. Establishment usually happens within 8 weeks for trees and shrubs.