Planting hardy and bare root plants

Date
Published in
Various local newspapers (UK)
Written by
Kim Wilde

The autumn is one of the best times of the gardening year in which to plant a whole range of hardy plants. This is because the soil in your garden will be warm and moist following the summer, which creates the perfect growing conditions for establishing new garden plants.

Trees, shrubs, roses, fruit bushes, hedging plants and perennials are just a few of the plants that really benefit from being planted in the autumn. They are able to take advantage of the warm, moist soil to establish new roots before the winter and be ready to burst into growth next spring. Traditionally before the advent of growing and buying plants in containers, the autumn would have been one of the few times that gardeners would have had the opportunity to plant and establish new plants. Hardy plants traditionally were grown in the field and then lifted as bare root stock in the late autumn, to be sold and replanted as quickly as possible.

You can still purchase bare root or root wrapped plants today from many garden centres and nurseries in the autumn and the plants tend to be very good value for money, although bare in mind that you will need to replant your purchases as soon as you get them home, to prevent drying out of the roots. If you are planting a hedge or starting a fruit collection, it is a good idea to buy bare root plants or root wrapped plants, as they tend to establish far quicker than container grown plants.

When planting any tree or shrub, it is essential that the ground is in a suitable condition for planting; therefore it should not be too wet or frozen. Once you have made your choice of plants for your garden, check that the position you have chosen for planting is suitable for your subject. This you can do by checking the care label supplied with the plant, looking in a gardening reference book or by asking for advice at your local garden centre. Ensure the plants are watered thoroughly in their pots before planting.

The planting hole for your new plant should be excavated wide enough to accommodate the whole of the root system, plus a few more inches to spare all around. This will allow plenty of room for the roots to grow when the plants are put into position.
Good drainage is most important and the base of the planting hole should be forked over as deeply as possible, incorporating a suitable organic planting mixture such as J. Arthur Bowers 'Tree and Shrub planting compost', as well as a slow acting general fertiliser such as Bonemeal.
If required, a suitable stake with ties should be used to support large trees and shrubs until established. After planting, regularly check to see if your plant requires watering and check any ties used are secure. Once you have completed your planting you can sit back and enjoy your garden, knowing that you have given your new plants the best possible start.

Kim's tip of the week

The autumn is a great time for planting containerised roses, as many garden centres and nurseries will have their first deliveries at this time of the year, which means you will have an early pick of the crop.
Also, many popular varieties of roses will be freely available, such as 'Silver Wedding', 'Ruby Wedding' and 'Golden Wedding', which will make an ideal celebration gift.