When to Plant Shrubs, Trees, Evergreen Shrubs and Perrenials
Although you can plant pot-grown shrubs at any time of the year when theis workable, the best are: mid-spring and early autumn for conifers and evergreens, autumn for woody trees, shrubs, fruit and climbers, spring for hardy perennials and rock plants.
Tender plants include slightly tender perennials and shrubs. Many of these are even more tender when they are young. Half-hardy annuals or summer bedding and patio plants are not frost proof, neither are tenderlike basil and vegetables, including , and . Watch the weather and don’t plant these until just after the last frost in early summer. If you’ve recently moved to the area, keen gardeners will know when this is likely to be, so ask them or wait and see when they plant out.
If you buy tender plants, before the last frost make sure you can stand them somewhere safe such as a greenhouse, cold frame, carport or sunroom. Harden them off for 10 to 14 days to accustom them gradually to outdoor conditions. During the day, stand them outside and bring them in at night. If you have a cold frame you can save yourself effort by just taking the lid off during the day). Watch out for slugs and snails during this period, which will be looking for a tasty, tender leaf salad or two to chomp. If you don’t have somewhere to harden off plants, it’s a good idea to leave them in the garden centre until after the frosts. Once bedding plants are displayed outdoors there, you can be pretty sure that it is safe to plant them out.
Don’t skimp on your soil preparation. Don’t plant until you’ve prepared properly. If possible, prepare the ground in the autumn and leave it rough through the winter, so that the birds can clear up the soil pests for you. Fork it over to turn up those pests still hiding underground. If you are planting a whole new bed, spread a thin layer of well-rotted organic matter over the surface. Fork over the ground, removing any weeds and roots as you go and turning in the compost. Rake the ground roughly level, removing any stones or roots. If you are preparing for seed sowing, rake extra well, leaving it looking like cake crumbs. If you are planting a single shrub, spend as much time digging the hole as you did choosing the plant. Dig a big hole, mixing in plenty of compost and fertiliser unless you’re planting in autumn or winter.
As a general rule put in plants so that the top of the rootball is level with the surrounding soil. Exceptions to this rule are bearded irises, where the top half of the rhizome should be above the ground after planting. Clematis need to be planted deeply, with the top of the rootball 10-15 cm (4-6 in) down so that they can send out new shoots from underground stems if they are damaged by careless weeding or clematis wilt disease.
PLANTING A TREE
When you plant a tree, hammer in a short stake alongside at an angle of about 45 degrees, with the tip about 30 cm (12 in) from the base of the tree. That way, there is no risk of the tip impaling the rootball. Fix the trunk to the stake using a proper tree tie. Always tie the tree to the stake, not the stake to the tree. Be sure to water thoroughly. This washes the soil down around the roots so that they are surrounded by soil and not air pockets. Trees planted in the autumn normally need less watering, as the weather does it for you. If you plant in the spring you’ll need to water throughout the summer.