Information, Resources & Advice

Plants, Gardens & Nature

Plant Buying, Planting & Plant Selection

When buying plants: When visiting a garden centre or nursery there are a few simple guidelines to choosing a potted plant to ensure that the plant is strong and healthy. You should get the best value for you money!

  • Roots should not be growing out of the base of the pot.
  • The plant should however be well rooted in the pot, i.e. if you lift the plant it should not lift easily out of the soil. This indicates that it has only recently been repotted, and has yet to establish itself.
  • Choose a plant with healthy foliage and where appropriate several new shoots and buds, as this shows the plant is growing well.
  • Look for a bushy plant with a well balanced shape. Check if it has a single stem/trunk or many, depending upon what you want it to develop into i.e. shrub or tree form.
  • Go to the nursery throughout the year to get a sense of the seasons as it can be tempting to visit a garden centre or nursery in the spring and buy the attractive plants which are in flower at that time of year. This can leave the garden without much interest for the rest of the year.

Planting: When you get the plant home and are ready to plant it, follow these simple guidelines to ensure successful establishment of the plant.

  • Water the plant well in its pot a few hours before planting.
  • Ensure the hole is deep enough to take the root ball of the plant. For most plants the soil level in the pot should be level with the soil in your garden.
  • Make the hole a good size larger that the pot. This will allow you to add a good soil or compost to completely surround the roots and give it a good head start.
  • Add compost/fertiliser to the compost or soil to be used to fill in the hole. This will depend upon species and soil you have. Less inorganic fertilizer is to be preferred.
  • Mix some of the soil with your compost and place some in the bottom of the hole.
  • Place root ball in hole, fill in with well mixed soil/compost and firm around the plant to secure it, but be careful not to firm so much as to compact the soil.
  • Water in well and stake the plant to secure it against the wind, if it is for example a large tree.

Selection of Plants: Here are few points to consider.

  • Make sure you have a idea of how big the plant will get (Height and Width). This is especially important for trees and hedges. Note the difficulties of Leylandii Cypress hedges. This makes a good hedge but it must be well maintained as otherwise within a few seasons it can become out of control.
  • Is the plant suitable for the soil and position see site. Examples: Rhododendrons like acid soils. Senecio greyii is good at coastal sites. Wet and waterlogged soils will drown and rot species like Lavanders and other mediteranean species.
  • If design is important: does the plant suit the others it will sit with (e.g. colour)? and as they grow will they overgrow each other in spread and height?