Planting Shrubs in the Flower Garden – Part 2
After receiving shrubs from a nursery, water as soon as possible. Bare rootstock should be soaked for several hours in a bucket of water. Cover all the roots and don’t soak longer than over night. You can also use the puddling method as talked about in the transplanting annuals article to protect the roots from drying out during the transplanting procedure.
Your hole should be dug such that it is at least twice as wide as the pot or ball the shrub presently is in. However, you should not plant the shrub any deeper than it already is. So do not dig a deeper hole than the depth of the ball or container the shrub is presently in. For bare root, you want to make sure you do not plant it any deeper than it was previously planted. This is usually quite easy to distinguish. If it is your first time, get someone from the nursery to show you how to determine this.
There is some discussion among gardeners as to what should be put back into the hole, besides the plant. :-) Some believe the soil dug from the hole should be amended with compost and fertilizer and others think only the soil itself should go back into that hole. I think a lot depends on your soil and area. I amend the soil on my place because, as I’ve said before, it is adobe.
Something that could also be tried is to use your spading fork, or even your shovel, and loosen the sides and bottom of your hole. Kind of like puncturing a potato with a fork before putting it in the microwave. This way the soil around the hole is not just one solid mass and the roots may find it easier to grow out of the hole into the surrounding soil.
The reasoning behind this is sometimes you will find a shrub’s or tree’s roots will just grow round and round in the “loose” and amended soil put back in the hole, never going out into the surrounding soil. Then as the shrub or tree matures into its full growth with a large mass on top, it has no counterweighing mass in the ground to support it in a nasty storm or wind. As said before this does depend upon your soil type.
One last tip about the hole. If you are planting bare root shrubs, you should build up a small mountain in the bottom and center of your hole. When ready to plant, try to drape the roots around this heap. Since the roots are not already in soil like in a container grown plant, this will give the roots some support and hopefully keep them from being broken as they might be if just stuck in the hole and dirt shoved on them.
Part 3 and the final installment will come later this week.