Step-by-step planting

G Magazine

With the onset of the warmer days, it’s time to dig into the soil and start planting – think vegies or bright blooms. Here’s all you need to know to ensure your new plants thrive.

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Exploring the world of plants is one of the most enjoyable parts of creating a garden and there's no doubt you'll discover many interesting plants along the way. Be careful of impulse buying, and try to do your research first to make sure that any new plant you find is going to perform well and fit in with your Garden's planting scheme.

Buying plants

Your local garden centre is a great place to start when looking for a good a range of plants suited to your area. Most centres employ a qualified horticulturist who is willing to share their local plant knowledge, so make use of it! Weekend markets are good places in which to pick up bargains. Look out for people selling tubestock - you'll save yourself lots of money buying smaller plants, especially if you need large numbers of one species for hedging or the like. Mail order companies tend to sell their plants in tubes, because they are easy to package and post. You can find a lot of these companies on the internet and they are becoming increasingly popular especially for sourcing rare and unusual plants. If you want to really keep the costs down, try propagating some plants yourself, especially the ones you need in large numbers, such as groundcovers.

Choosing healthy plants

It's important to choose plants that are in good health. You can usually tell if they are healthy by having a good look at them.
• Start with the foliage: it should have a healthy colour, the same as the label, and it should be unblemished and undamaged. Have a good look at the stems and the leaves to be sure they are free of pests and diseases.
• Avoid plants that look sparse and twiggy. Healthy plants should be bushy with strong stems and branches. Have a look at the potting mix. It should be free of weeds (you don't want to take them home) and avoid plants where the mix has dried out.
• If you can, take the plant out of its pot to check the roots. Only buy plants with a well-developed root system but don't buy plants with root balls that are circling and overcrowded. This is not a good start for a plant, particularly if it's a tree or shrub.

How often should you water new plants?

In the first two weeks after planting, water two to three times a week in warm conditions and daily during hot weather. From then on, you can gradually reduce the frequency of watering until the plant shows that it is able to cope with little or no additional watering. Keep an eye on the plant for any signs of moisture stress such as:
• Wilting or drooping
• Loss of natural colour in leaves, particularly lower leaves
• Lack of vigour and stunted growth
• Loss of shine or glow in foliage
• Curling leaves
• Foliage and fruit drop
If these signs appear, give the plant a good, deep soaking. Over time, this will encourage the plant to develop a deeper and independent root system.

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