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When to plant?

It is a question that I am often asked, “When is the best time of the year to plant?”. The truth is that you can plant any time of the year.

Here are some basic points to remember when planting, no matter what time of the year.

  • Always break up the ground where the plant is going. For a small potted plant go a foot beyond the circumference of the pot. This will allow the roots to travel. Dig down well beyond the bottom of the pot, this will allow for free drainage.
  • Incorporate plenty of organic matter into the planting hole and the backfill. I use a product called Gee-Up. It is an compost made from horse manure. It’s organic, made in Ireland, it’s in easy to handle bags and it really does help soil condition.
  • Don’t bury the plant. People often place the plant too deep in the planting hole, this will lead to failure by the rotting the stem of the plant or tree. The aim is to have the level of the compost in the pot level with the ground of the chosen planting site.
  • Firm the plant in well, don’t be afraid to use the heal of your boot. This will help the plant to stand and to get settled in.

A potted plant that you would buy from a garden centre can be planted on a hot midsummer’s day, the basic rules must be followed plus the plant has to be regularly watered. Take that same plant in mid October apply the same basic rules but there would probably be no need to water. The ground is damp, but still warm, also the plant is slowing down so there would not be the same demand on water.

Most home gardeners are fine with the idea of planting in spring/summer and making the effort to water. But if this was a large planting project with hundreds of plants of course the correct decision then would be to plant in october or february.
Water is vital for plant establishment, especially in the first year. After planting in spring/summer it is so important to water regularly. Even though it may rain during the course of the growing season, this may not be enough to properly sustain good plant growth.

Bare Root planting is specific to the winter months. This is when nurseries lift plants and trees that are dormant. This process starts late October when the leaves begin to fall. Bareroot plants and trees are only available from the very end of October to mid March , when the growth comes again.

I like to plant my bare root plants either as early as possible or as late as possible. If they are planted early the soil is still warm and they have time to establish themselves, before the full onslaught of winter. Alternatively, by planting late in the bare root season the worst of the winter is over and the growth is not far away. But beware, do not leave it too late!

Posted on 12th September 2016

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