General Planting Guide
When your plants arrive
Unpack your order as soon as it arrives. Place the plants in a bright position out of direct sunlight and drying winds then water the plants well (we use Seasol at the recommended rate when receiving plants from interstate). Depending on the size of the plants you receive, and seasonal conditions, you may choose to plant your new arrivals straight into their final garden location.
If the plants you receive are too small to cope with your garden conditions (dogs, children, or the wrong climatic season) you may then choose to pot them into a larger container and grow them on before planting them out in the garden. Additional information and tips on how to do this is given below.
A few of our plant varieties may be sent to you bare-rooted, that is, without a plastic pot around their roots. These plants will need to be either potted up or planted out straight away. Again, refer to the details given below. BACK TO TOP
Planting straight into the garden
You will have the greatest success if you ensure that your new arrivals are provided with good soil, an appropriate aspect (sunny or shaded as directed) and adequate moisture. Assuming that you have these conditions in hand (see notes at the end of this section), you can then proceed to plant.
Removing tubestock from the pot/tube.
- Care must be taken when removing the plant from the small pot. Pulling it out may result in breakage and loss.
- Squeeze the plant tube gently, hold your fingers over the soil, invert the pot and remove the tube. If it does not slip off easily, tap the rim of the inverted pot against a suitable object. The plant should slip out into your hand.
- If the root mass has distorted the pot (some succulents and strappy plants can do this) you will need to split the pot to remove it. To do this safely, lie the pot on a flat surface and use a sharp knife or the sharp blade of your secateurs to cut lengthways down the side of the pot.
Planting tubestock straight into the garden
- Prepare only a small hole in your garden soil, about 7 x 7 x 10 cm deep. Place about half a teaspoon of slow release fertiliser into the bottom of the hole and mix it lightly with the soil.
- Place your plant into the prepared hole and gently backfill the hole with soil. Firm the soil gently around the plant and water it in thoroughly (a seaweed extract solution such as Seasol at the recommended strength is recommended).
- Ensure that the plant is keep moist until it is well established.
Planting bare-rooted plants straight into the garden
- The procedure is essentially the same as for planting tubestock directly into the garden as described above, but the planting hole will need to be varied to accommodate the size of the bare-rooted material. BACK TO TOP
Potting up tubestock or bare-rooted material
If the plants you receive are too small to cope with your garden conditions (dogs, children, or the wrong climatic season) you may then choose to pot them into a larger container and grow them on before planting them out in the garden.
- Use a pot that is between 100 and 140 mm wide at the top (10 – 14 cm) and that is deeper than wide. Plastic is light and convenient but you might also chose terracotta. Do not use a larger pot than this unless you know the variety is particularly vigorous. The proportionately small root ball will remain too wet in a large pot and may rot.
- Have on hand a premium potting mix. Do not use garden soil or cheap mixes as they may carry pathogens and do not drain well enough for a pot. Chose a potting mix that contains fertiliser if you have a number of plants to pot up, otherwise add a slow-release fertiliser as you go.
- Remove the plant from its pot as described above. One third fill the pot with potting mix and add fertiliser at this point if it is not already incorporated in the potting mix. Place the plant in the centre of the pot and carefully fill the pot to excess with potting mix. Tamp the soil down gently by bumping the pot a couple of times on a firm surface, and then brush excess potting mix from around the plant. Label each pot if you wish to keep track of the varieties in your garden.
- Water your newly potted plant well. (We use a Seasol solution at the recommended rate.) In hot weather position newly potted plants out of full afternoon sun and hot drying winds. Dappled light or morning sun is ideal. Remember that potted plants will dry out more quickly than plants in the ground. It is useful to place your potted plants in a spot that you pass by on a regular basis.
- Potted plants may be transferred to the garden at any time once they have a well-established root ball. Invert the pot over your hand and slip the pot off carefully to see if the root system is well developed (roots will be well evident around the sides of the soil mass). If the root system is not well developed the soil may fall apart on planting causing damage to the young root system.
- When the plants are ready, plant them into the garden as described above, but use a bigger hole and a flat teaspoon of slow-release fertiliser.
- Use an open mulch around the plant to help retain moisture (see notes below), being careful to keep the mulch a few cm clear of the young plant stem. BACK TO TOP
Improving your soil
Ensuring that your soil is in good condition before planting is the single most important investment that you can make in your garden. Spend $9 on preparation for every $1 you spend on plants unless your soil is exceptional. You may otherwise be wasting your money.
Your soil type will fall into one of the following three categories:
A very free draining soil type which has virtually no structure to it and dries out quickly (it runs through your fingers when dry). Sandy soils are common in Perth and in WA, and need considerable improvement to grow plants well. A simple solution is to build elevated beds and import quantities of good quality landscaping mix. Smaller scale alternatives are to see your local garden centre specialist and purchase soil conditioning mixes, manures and trace element additives to incorporate into your sandy soils. The items and advice you need are available at accredited garden centres such as Guildford Town Garden Centre. Remember, soil improvement is not a one-of solution, it will be an ongoing process.
You are extremely lucky if your garden soil is loamy. It will have some structure when a moist handful is squeezed, but it will still fall apart to some degree when your hand is opened. Loam can still be improved with compost and trace element additives. The items and advice you need are available at accredited garden centres such as Guildford Town Garden Centre. Remember, soil improvement is not a one-of solution, it will be an ongoing process.
Although these soils drain poorly they do provide better water retention than sandy soils. When a handful of a moist clay soil is squeezed it will form a smooth lump that does not fall apart. Clay soils need the addition of considerable quantities of compost and gypsum to improve their structure, and to provide the aeration required for strong root growth. The items and advice you need are available at accredited garden centres such as Guildford Town Garden Centre. Remember, soil improvement is not a one-of solution, it will be an ongoing process. BACK TO TOP
The Do’s and Don’ts of Mulching
Mulching is strongly recommended in our hot dry summers to avoid excessive water loss from the soil surface, particularly in new planted gardens. In a more established garden, the shrubs and groundcovers provide a green mulch if their cover is more or less continuous.
A mulch is any substance that is spread over the soil surface to prevent capillary movement of water out of the soil. A mulch must therefore have a relatively coarse structure otherwise it will continue to let the moisture escape. Composts and manures are not generally suitable as mulches as they have too much fine material incorporated into their structure.
Some caution is needed if overhead watering is being used as organic mulches such as hays, straws and wood or bark chips can absorb quite a bit of water, preventing it from soaking into the soil until the mulch is very wet. The depth of mulch must therefore be considered in this case. No more than about 4 cm of lucerne mulch, 5 – 7 cm of very coarse hay, or 5 – 7 cm of wood chips or bark. Drip irrigation installed under the mulch (laid on the soil surface before the mulch is applied) will solve this particular problem. Gravels or river stones are also a good mulches (although they make additions of composts rather difficult), and they do not absorb any significant amount of overhead water. BACK TO TOP