Planting Tips and Advice
Transplanting checks plant growth and makes plants vulnerable to pests and diseases. It is therefore important to minimize the shock and help the plants to establish quickly.
Bedding and vegetable plants
Prepare the planting site at least a week or two in advance and transplant on dull days or wait until evening if it is hot. A warm, moist is ideal — never plant in very cold or conditions. Do not let plants in pots or modules become root-bound or starved, or allow plants in seedbeds to grow too big — brassicas, for example, should be about 10cm (4in) high. Water them thoroughly before transplanting.
Make a hole large enough to accommodate the roots easily. Put in the plant, fill with soil around the roots, firm the surface and water well around the base of the plant. If it is sunny it is important to shade the plants with newspaper or horticultural fleece for the first few days. Water regularly in dry spells until the plants become established. Give approximately 150ml (1/4pt) to each individual plant every time you water.
Trees, shrubs and fruit
When to plant depends on the type of plant you have chosen as well as weather and soil conditions. For example, the best time to plant evergreens is in mid- to late spring, although they can be planted from early to mid-autumn in mild areas. The best time for planting deciduous plants is late autumn, or late winter or early spring if the soil is not frozen or waterlogged. Containerized plants can be planted in summer if you water them in dry spells.
If you are planting into a well-cared-for bed or border, little preparation is necessary, especially if your plants are bare-rooted. Make a hole wide enough to take the spread of roots of bare-rooted plants; in the case of container-grown plants, allow at least 10cm (4in) on each side of the rootball. The depth of the hole must allow the plant to sit at the same level as it was in the nursery bed or pot.
Fill up the hole gradually, shaking bare-rooted plants lightly to ensure that the soil filters through the roots. Gently firm the soil as you go, but do not tread down too heavily. On a new or neglected planting site, prepare an area of at least 1m (3-1/2ft) square. If it is a lawn or meadow, strip off the turf and keep it aside. Dig out the topsoil and fork the subsoil to remove any compaction. Put the turf back in the bottom of the hole and chop it up with a spade. Add compost, leafmould or a proprietary planting mixture (see Growing Media for Garden Plants) to the topsoil as you put the plant in and refill the hole as before.
When the hole is filled to surface level, water to help the soil settle round the roots and put on a mulch or tree mat (see Controlling Weeds). The plants will need regular watering in dry spells until they become established. The amount will depend on the size of the root system, but be prepared to give large trees and shrubs up to 11 litre (2-1/2gal) every one or two weeks.
Lack of water puts stress on plants, reducing their growth and making them prone to pests and diseases. This happens long before they wilt. How to Treat Common Plant Diseases) and powdery scab (see Growing Potatoes – Pests and Diseases), for example, are particularly exacerbated by dry conditions.(see
Although you should try to conserve moisture in the soil by adding organic matter and mulching, watering is usually necessary. Apart from new transplants, some fruit and vegetables need watering to give the best yields. Watering is also critical for plants in containers and.
How much to water
Watering heavily every so often is more effective than a daily light sprinkling, which will evaporate without penetrating to the deeper roots. Generally, apply at least 11 litres/sq m (2-1/2gal/sq yd) at onetime, although some vegetables benefit from more. Do not overwater as this can cause lush leafy growth at the expense of, roots or fruit, leaching of nutrients and loss of flavour. It also discourages plants from making deep roots.
When to water
Dry soil 23cm (9in) down is a good indication that water is needed. Sandy soils need watering more often than clay soils. There are certain times when some fruit and vegetables need extra water; if time and/or water are limited, water the crops during this period. You can also save on watering by choosing ornamentals that are able to tolerate dry conditions.
Apart from watering cans and hoses, the most efficient means of watering plants is with lengths of perforated or porous “seep hose”. These are laid on the soil surface or under a mulch and deliver water to the plant roots without wastage to paths or evaporation. This method also causes less damage to the soil surface and, because the foliage of the plant stays dry, does not lead to fungal diseases.