planting trees and shrubs

Planting Trees and Shrubs

Planting Trees and Shrubs

Container grown trees and shrubs can be planted at any time of the year as long as you give them the best possible start and water regularly after planting. Traditionally the main planting season is from autumn through to early spring for good reason, the weather is cooler and there is more likelihood of regular rainfall. Also deciduous plants such as roses have no foliage to support so they put their energy into establishing a good root system. The earlier in the planting season you plant, in other words autumn, the longer the plants have to establish before the following season.

Container grown hardy plants are grown in especially formulated growing media for optimum growth and root development.  When you plant them in your garden you need to provide the right conditions to make your soil just as attractive as the compost in which they started their lives. This will encourage the roots to move out of the rootball and establish themselves in the open ground. 

Firstly dig over the planting position with a fork and add plenty of garden compost or better still dig in a bag of Vitax Farmyard Manure, it is a great soil conditioner.

Then dig a hole at least twice the size of the pot the plant is grown in. This is especially important on heavy clay soil to encourage those roots to spread out and establish. Using a spade or fork, break up the soil at the base of the hole to ensure good drainage and make sure the roots go deep.

Mix plenty of your own garden compost or Vitax Peat Free Multi-Purpose Compost both with the soil in the bottom of the hole and the soil that has been dug out.  Vitax Peat free Multi-Purpose Compost contains slow release nutrients and increases the water holding capacity of the soil, so it is ideal on dry sandy or chalky soils.

Now you need to add a handful of slow release fertiliser over the soil to be returned to the hole and a good handful in the base of the hole and mix in with the fork.  Vitax Q4+ fertiliser is perfect for this as it contains all the food your plant needs to encourage root growth, in other words plenty of phosphate. Also slow release nitrogen for healthy leaf and stem growth next spring. In addition it contains the magic ingredient: mycorrhizal fungi. These grow in the soil in association with the roots to enhance the performance of the roots and aid establishment.

Mycorrhizal fungi are particularly beneficial when planting roses which are often containerised (dug from the field and potted) or sold bare root. They have a wiry root system that needs encouragement. They are also difficult to establish in situations where a rose has been grown before: a condition known as rose replant disease. To overcome this add Vitax Rootmore at the time of planting and make sure the powder is in direct contact with the roots. It is also ideal when planting bare root trees and fruit trees.

Before you knock the new shrub out of its pot, water it thoroughly if you have not already done so. It is very difficult to wet a dry rootball once buried in soil. Water will stay in the soil and fail to penetrate the growing medium around the roots.

Now knock the plant out of its container and place the rootball in the centre of the hole.  The surface of the compost should be just below the natural soil level. When you remove the plant from the pot do not tease out or damage the roots as this would defeat the object of container planting.  Any strong roots that separate themselves from the bottom the rootball can be spread out in the planting hole, but do not interfere any more than that.

Replace the soil around the plant, mixing the slow-release fertilizer and planting compost with the soil as you do it.  

Gently firm the soil around the rootball with your toe or heel.  Firm the soil from the outside of the hole in towards the rootball.  Do not compress the rootball by pushing down on it with your foot.

Continue to replace the soil to about 1cm (1/2 inch) above the compost level and make a dish of the soil surface to direct rainfall, or irrigation water, into the rootball.  Water thoroughly, even if it is raining or rain is forecast. In the early stages of a plant’s life, while the root system is developing, it is really important to have a supply of water always available and to water frequently until the plant is well established.

Planting rhododendrons and other ericaceous plants

Rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, pieris, callunas and other lime hating plants are planted in just the same way, however you need to use Vitax Ericaceous Compost as a soil conditioner and planting compost and add Vitax Conifer and shrub Fertiliser as a slow release planting fertiliser. Vitax Q4+ is not suitable.

These plants have particularly dense, fibrous root systems. Thorough watering before or after planting is essential and throughout the first growing season. Watering with Vitax Seaweed Plus Sequestered Iron is a great tonic for these plants and really helps to promote growth after the first flowering season.

Andy McIndoe for Vitax – August 2016 

Knowledgeable gardeners trust our brands

Your login details have been used by another user or machine. Login details can only be used once at any one time so you have therefore automatically been logged out. Please contact your sites administrator if you believe this other user or machine has unauthorised access.