Pruning Tips
February 9, 2019
Garden Tips
February 9, 2019

Planting Tips

You will need:

  • Spade
  • Grit
  • Organic matter
  • Fertiliser

Step 1: Prepare The Ground

Incorporate extra grit if your soil is poorly drained or if your plants require it – this is particularly important if you’re planting bulbs and alpines.

Add organic matter to improve the soil. High levels of organic matter are required by some plants but all will benefit.

Level off the site and break down large lumps of soil.

If you have not prepared the whole area dig a hole for the plant twice as wide and as deep as the original container and improve the soil as above. If the soil is low in nutrients – for example if your soil is sandy – add a light dressing of fertiliser in the planting hole and mix well. Add a further light top dressing after planting but not close to the stem. Do not use large amounts of fertiliser as this can damage plant roots.

Step 2: Planting

Check the hole is large enough for the plant, ensuring all the roots will fit in when extended.

Soak the plant. Immersion for a short time is the best method – when bubbles stop coming to the surface, remove and allow the surplus water to drain away.

Remove the container and if the plant roots are dense gently loosen so they will branch out into new ground. Ideally, new roots will just be reaching the outside of the pot at planting time – in this case do not disturb at all.

Depth of planting is important: the plant should usually end up at the same depth in the ground as it was in the pot. Place a pole across the planting hole to enable you to judge this.

Planting depth can be important with some plants – for example plant peonies too deep and they will take years to come into flower. Plant clematis too shallow (the lower stem should be buried) and they are susceptible to clematis wilt. Check plant instructions for details on planting depth.

Step 3: Finish Off

Water in well, thoroughly soaking the soil. For trees and shrubs, mound soil around the perimeter of the planting hole to retain water and fill a number of times and daily thereafter for a few weeks. Trees and shrubs may need watering for up to a year. Tall trees may require staking – particularly in a windy site.

Finish off by mulching the ground with a 50 – 75mm (2 – 3in) layer of organic matter to discourage weeds and retain moisture. If you do not, you must scrupulously remove weeds. New weed seeds will germinate quickly, competing with your plants for water and food.

If the roots have been damaged (eg if you have moved the plant from another situation) balance the roots and the top of the plant by pruning. This will encourage the plant to grow away better. Many plants (never rhododendrons) benefit from pruning at planting time. See Pruning Tips for more information about this.

Tip: For alpines and plants susceptible to neck rots, mulch with grit immediately around the stems to keep dry.

Kayleen Hoard
Kayleen Hoard
Welcome to Everton Park and Garden Blog - My lovely gardening experiences


  1. Avatar Perry Mosteller says:

    I would be most grateful if you could help me. I have purchased a mandarin and a lemon tree, both of which seem to have some sort of problem with their leaves – they are turning yellow and then falling off. I have them both planted in ericaceous soil in terracotta pots. They are in full sun during the day and well watered every night. Could you please tell me what I am doing wrong?

    • Kayleen Hoard Kayleen Hoard says:

      Hello Perry,

      Citrus plants can react in this sort of way (i.e. by losing their leaves) when they have been subject to an environmental shock of some kind. You say you have them both planted in terracotta pots in ericaceous compost which is quite correct, but the shock caused to the roots when transplanting may have caused this reaction. If you removed much of the old compost before placing the plants in new compost, you could have damaged many of the roots, resulting in them being unable to take up moisture until they have re-grown.

      Great care should be taken when repotting citrus plants and it is best not to disturb the rootball too much. This is achieved by adding new compost above and below the rootball where necessary.

      Citrus plants are also very sensitive to the light and will react to being moved from a shady position to one where they are exposed to full sun. You can help them to recover by keeping them in a shady place until you are sure they have started to re-grow and by spraying the foliage with clean water a couple of times a day. Spraying the leaves occasionally is a good idea in any event as it helps to reduce attacks of Red Spider Mite.

      Keep your plants out of direct sun until they have become accustomed to their new situations. Be careful with the watering – in a more shady position you need only keep the rootball moist and do not over water as this will prevent the roots from re-growing quickly. Once they have settled down, by all means put them in a sunnier place but introduce them to this gradually.

  2. Avatar Elaine says:

    We live in a terraced house and only have a yard. I would love to be able to grow some of my own vegetables this summer but they would have to be grown in pots. What vegetables would you recommend?

    • Kayleen Hoard Kayleen Hoard says:

      Hi Elaine

      You do not need acres of space to grow veggies in the garden…in fact you could even grow stuff in a window box. Most vegetables can be grown in pots and many dwarf varieties are available if you are really short of space. The main problems you will face is keeping things watered and fed well. Pots tend to dry out really quickly especially in the summer, and with constant watering the nutrients are leached from the soil and will need to be replenished.

      I would aim to have as big a container as possible with a depth of 45 cm minimum, otherwise you will be constantly watering the things. Mix in a bit of well rotted manure into the bottom of the pot, this well help with water retention and supply vital nutrients. You can use liquid feeds but if you are organically minded then the manure will do the trick! Another great tip is to use a suitable slow release fertilizer that will feed the plants all throughout the growing season.

      Crops that work well in pots include beetroot, tomatoes, peppers, broad beans, carrots, lettuce, peas, other salad leaves, spinach, garlic and even potatoes! Herbs too are great in pots and will take really well, parsley, coriander, thyme, chives; the list is ends less just be sure to look closely at the individual requirements of each plant. Most vegetables need plenty of light and fertile soil to grow in so if your garden is in deep shade you may well struggle, so make sure to position your pots in the right place, check the seed packets and labels for individual requirements and position, or even plant together, in groups with similar needs.

      You can get really creative with your choice of containers, try buckets troughs, oil drums, wicker baskets, wine boxes, window boxes, grow bags….. Anything you can find will work and could lend itself to a really quirky feature in your garden. Also don’t think that you can only plant vegetables, try placing your containers in groups with perennials, shrubs and grasses for a more exciting effect.

      Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *