There is a saying in gardening: Dig a $10 hole for a 10 cent plant. Much of what ensures the success of your new plant is in how you plant it. Here’s how to do that correctly.
Right Plant, Right Place
First, pick the right place for the plant. (Does it want full sun? Well-drained soil? Will road salt kill it?) After you’ve sited the plant in the conditions it will be most happy in, you’re ready to start digging.
Planting the Plant
- Dig a hole twice as wide and just as deep as the rootball. Set dug-up soil aside, and mix 1/3 – 1/2 compost, peat, planting mix or other organic matter into that soil.
- Remove your new plant from its container and loosen its roots gently – use your hands to massage the bottom of the root ball a bit. If the soil is very wet and loose and likely to fall away completely – skip this step.
- Set the plant in the middle of the hole. Do not plant too deeply! The top of the rootball should be above ground level so the plant won’t sit in a soggy bowl. Backfill halfway with soil mix. Tamp the soil down lightly and water well. Allow soil to settle. Continue to backfill with soil until you reach the top. Tamp lightly and build a berm of soil around the plant – this lets the water settle downward toward the plant’s roots and not just run off at ground level. Water deeply after planting to help the soil further settle in by the plant’s roots, and bubble up any large air pockets.
- Finish by adding a 2-3″ layer of mulch several feet out from the plant. Keep mulch 3″ away from the trunk or base of the plant so you do not hold moisture in against the plant’s stem(s), and encourage rot, mold, or fungal growth.
Plant Care and Feeding
- Water your new planting(s) deeply 1-2 times a week as needed and with a root stimulator for 3-4 weeks. Don’t overwater – plant roots need air too! Overwatering will rot the roots and essentially drown the plant. Poke your finger into the soil around the plant. If it feels moist already – hold back on watering.
- Established plantings (growing in their second year) may need less frequent watering. Using a slow trickle from a hose or soaker hose, to water the plant(s) weekly and deeply.
- Fertilize your plants according to package directions. Some plants are heavy feeders, and some prefer neglect, so know their preference. We recommend non-toxic, organic fertilizers and soil amendments.
- In its third year, your plant should be established and happy. Unless the plant has special care needs, it should be self sufficient and able to thrive on its own, with only occasional pampering from the gardener (pruning, hand watering in drought, etc.)
- You’ve done your job. Sit back and enjoy the plant’s show! Time to get more plants!