How to buy the best garden plants

Bought plants

In practice it appears not at all easy to obtain the garden plants of your choice. Where are they available, when should they be ordered, how should they be induced to take root? No doubt you would like an answer to such questions.

Where to buy

Mail order firms still provide the largest selection, although the better type of garden centre is another good source. Reserve your plants as soon as you have made your choice; they will automatically be delivered in the correct season. Occasionally a different species or variety than the one you ordered is sent – a nuisance, for you will discover it only when the plants start to flower. For that reason it is advisable to buy only from reliable firms.

When planting out or moving several species it is convenient to label the plants in order to avoid mistakes. Plants bought in plastic pots must be carefully removed to restrict damage to the root system

Moving Plants bought in plastic pots

When and how to plant

We shall divide the plants into groups and discuss each group separately:

Shrubs (trees, bushes, conifers) Deciduous shrubs should only be moved when they have lost their foliage (late autumn to early spring). Evergreen shrubs are supplied with a soil-ball and in principle can be planted throughout the year, early autumn and mid spring being particularly good times.

Dig roomy pits for your shrubs and fill them with a fertile soil mixture. The netting surrounding the soil-ball must be removed in such a way that the soil remains intact. Give plenty of water during and after planting (watering in). Trees must be firmly staked.

Evergreen shrubs in particular must be protected from the wind and should be watered freqtrerpefyr — warm water in frosty weather.

Perennials These are nearly always planted in spring, but planting can also be done in early autumn. The bed is dug and manured, raked, the plants are laid out and planted immediately afterwards. They are then thoroughly watered.

Annual and biennial plants When pur- chased it is usually in the form of bedding plants (for example African marigolds, violas). They can be planted immedi- ately. Biennials grown from seed should be planted in their permanent position in autumn, possibly covered to avoid frost damage.

Bulbs and tubers Spring-flowering bulbs (tulips, daffodils, narcissi, hya- cinths etc) are planted in the autumn. Some species require a light covering of straw, bracken or peat to protect them from frost.

Summer-flowering bulbs and tubers (gladioli, dahlias etc) can nearly always be planted in the spring. The young shoots must be protected from frost by covering them with a flowerpot.

Container-grown plants In garden centres, plants are increasingly sold in pots or other containers. Sometimes they can remain in the pot, or the plastic container can be removed easily but carefully. As long as the root system remains intact, such plants (shrubs, perennials and some bulbous plants) may be planted in any desired season; but after planting give plenty of water.

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