Working in the garden should be fun as well as productive, which is why we’ve put together this short reference guide to help you plant and transplant annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs. The guide is divided into three categories: bare root plants, plants in pots and burlap bag plants.

Bare root plants

Planting must be done during the plant’s dormant period, either from April to mid-May or late-September to late-October. Overcast conditions are preferable.

1. Remove damaged, dead or diseased roots and prune 1/3 off healthy roots.
2. Remove damaged, dead or diseased branches, as well as those that overlap, and follow by pruning 1/3 off healthy branches.
3. Fill a container with muddy water, add soluble transplanting fertilizer (read the manufacturer’s instructions), and put the roots in to soak.
4. Dig a hole or trench (for hedges) wide enough that you can spread the roots easily and deep enough to add 15 cm (6 inches) of mixed soil.
5. Ensure that drainage is adequate.
6. Fill the bottom of the hole with compost and add bone meal.
7. Add water.
8. Set the plant in the prepared opening and make sure the best side is facing where you want.
9. Do not cover the crown (the base of the plant where the branches begin to grow) or grafts.
10. Fill half the hole, making sure that no air pockets remain.
11. Water again.
12. Finish filling the hole, making sure to leave a “saucer” around the plant.

When you plant a hedge, maintain the proper distance between plants.

When you plant a tree, stake the tree if extra protection is required. Put the stake on the west side of the tree, since prevailing winds come from the west. Take care not to disturb the roots when you insert the stake.

From pot to garden

Potted plants are available in either peat pots or plastic containers.

Peat pots

Many plants come in peat pots, either grown from seed or planted as bare root plants. These pots are biodegradable and are placed directly in the ground. If you’re careful, they can be planted throughout the summer. Follow these steps:

1. Water the plant thoroughly.
2. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the plant pot and 1½ times the height of the pot.
3. Ensure that drainage is adequate.
4. Fill the bottom of the hole with compost appropriate for the plant.
5. Make sure that the soil at the top of the hole will be level with the soil in the pot.
6. Water.
7. Pull gently on the plant.

If there are cracks in the soil:
7.1. Place the pot near the hole and cut off the bottom of the pot.
7.2. Carefully place the plant in the hole and cut off the top part of the pot.


If you can lift the plant out easily and the soil remains intact:
7.1. Install the plant in the hole.


8. Fill half the hole with water.
9. Finish filling with soil.

Plastic containers

A container-grown plant is by far the easiest to plant. The root system develops entirely in the container, thereby minimizing transplantation shock. Plants grown in containers can be planted successfully throughout the entire planting season. Follow these steps:

1. Soak the container in water for at least one hour prior to planting.
2. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the container and 1½ times the height.
3. Ensure that drainage is adequate.
4. Fill the bottom of the hole with compost appropriate for the plant.
5. Make sure that the soil at the top of the hole will be level with the soil in the container.
6. Water.
7. Gently pull the plant out of the container.

If you see over-abundant roots but no soil:
7.1. Cut the root clump into strips to allow the tangled roots to penetrate into the earth.


8. Place the plant in the hole.
9. Fill half the hole with water.
10. Finish filling with soil.

Plants in burlap sacks or wire baskets

Many trees, shrubs and conifers are sold with their root balls wrapped in burlap and secured with a string or rope. Large sizes have the root ball contained in a wire basket. They can be planted throughout the season, but the spring and fall are the best.

Plants in burlap sacks are very similar to plants in peat pots when it comes to planting techniques. One small difference: when the bag is placed in the hole, the cords and knots that hold the bag must be untied and the burlap spread out over the bottom of the hole.

The planting technique for wire baskets is the same, simply on a larger scale. You’ll need to cut the wires and remove the basket before untying the knot and removing the burlap sack.

1. Mark the size of the hole to be dug – twice the diameter and 1½ times the height of the root ball.
2. Stretch out a tarp beside the hole to be dug.
3. Locate the tree’s root flare, where the trunk transitions to the root, and measure the height of the root ball to determine the depth of the hole.
4. Dig the hole and toss the soil on the tarp.
5. Verify the depth of the hole in relation to the size of the root ball, ensuring that when the root ball has been planted the soil will be level.
6. Fill the bottom of the hole with appropriate compost.
7. Roll the tree into place with its best side facing out, or according to your wishes.
8. Cut the wires and remove the basket, then untie the knot to remove the burlap.
9. Loosen the roots with a hand cultivator.
10. Backfill the hole with topsoil and compost.
11. Water thoroughly.
12. Stake if required.

Transplanting

There are a number of reasons to change a plant’s location: insufficient sunlight, space, or humidity, or new landscaping plans. Ideally, you should do your transplanting when plants are in a dormant state, on cloudy days in either spring or fall. Follow these steps:

  • Water the plant thoroughly a few days before transplanting.
  • Place a peat pot or piece of burlap close to the plant. This is where you will place the root clump. The size should be proportional to the size of the clump –between 1/2 and 2/3 the width of the plant.
  • Carefully cut a circle around the plant, large enough to retain a good-sized root clump.
  • Slowly lift out the clump and place it in the peat pot or on the piece of burlap.
  • Carry your plant to the new location and follow the directions above.

Bare root plants

Planting must be done during the plant’s dormant period, either from April to mid-May or late-September to late-October. Overcast conditions are preferable.

1. Remove damaged, dead or diseased roots and prune 1/3 off healthy roots. 2. Remove damaged, dead or diseased branches, as well as those that overlap, and follow by pruning 1/3 off healthy branches. 3. Fill a container with muddy water, add soluble transplanting fertilizer (read the manufacturer’s instructions), and put the roots in to soak. 4. Dig a hole or trench (for hedges) wide enough that you can spread the roots easily and deep enough to add 15 cm (6 inches) of mixed soil. 5. Ensure that drainage is adequate. 6. Fill the bottom of the hole with compost and add bone meal. 7. Add water. 8. Set the plant in the prepared opening and make sure the best side is facing where you want. 9. Do not cover the crown (the base of the plant where the branches begin to grow) or grafts. 10. Fill half the hole, making sure that no air pockets remain. 11. Water again. 12. Finish filling the hole, making sure to leave a “saucer” around the plant.

When you plant a hedge, maintain the proper distance between plants.

When you plant a tree, stake the tree if extra protection is required. Put the stake on the west side of the tree, since prevailing winds come from the west. Take care not to disturb the roots when you insert the stake.

From pot to garden

Potted plants are available in either peat pots or plastic containers.

Peat pots

Many plants come in peat pots, either grown from seed or planted as bare root plants. These pots are biodegradable and are placed directly in the ground. If you’re careful, they can be planted throughout the summer. Follow these steps:

1. Water the plant thoroughly.
2. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the plant pot and 1½ times the height of the pot.
3. Ensure that drainage is adequate.
4. Fill the bottom of the hole with compost appropriate for the plant.
5. Make sure that the soil at the top of the hole will be level with the soil in the pot.
6. Water.
7. Pull gently on the plant.
If there are cracks in the soil:
7.1. Place the pot near the hole and cut off the bottom of the pot.
7.2. Carefully place the plant in the hole and cut off the top part of the pot.

If you can lift the plant out easily and the soil remains intact:
7.1. Install the plant in the hole.

8. Fill half the hole with water.
9. Finish filling with soil.

Plastic containers

A container-grown plant is by far the easiest to plant. The root system develops entirely in the container, thereby minimizing transplantation shock. Plants grown in containers can be planted successfully throughout the entire planting season. Follow these steps:

1. Soak the container in water for at least one hour prior to planting.
2. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the container and 1½ times the height.
3. Ensure that drainage is adequate.
4. Fill the bottom of the hole with compost appropriate for the plant.
5. Make sure that the soil at the top of the hole will be level with the soil in the container.
6. Water.
7. Gently pull the plant out of the container.
If you see over-abundant roots but no soil:
7.1. Cut the root clump into strips to allow the tangled roots to penetrate into the earth.

8. Place the plant in the hole.
9. Fill half the hole with water.
10. Finish filling with soil.

Plants in burlap sacks or wire baskets

Many trees, shrubs and conifers are sold with their root balls wrapped in burlap and secured with a string or rope. Large sizes have the root ball contained in a wire basket. They can be planted throughout the season, but the spring and fall are the best.

Plants in burlap sacks are very similar to plants in peat pots when it comes to planting techniques. One small difference: when the bag is placed in the hole, the cords and knots that hold the bag must be untied and the burlap spread out over the bottom of the hole.

The planting technique for wire baskets is the same, simply on a larger scale. You’ll need to cut the wires and remove the basket before untying the knot and removing the burlap sack.

1. Mark the size of the hole to be dug – twice the diameter and 1½ times the height of the root ball.
2. Stretch out a tarp beside the hole to be dug.
3. Locate the tree’s root flare, where the trunk transitions to the root, and measure the height of the root ball to determine the depth of the hole.
4. Dig the hole and toss the soil on the tarp.
5. Verify the depth of the hole in relation to the size of the root ball, ensuring that when the root ball has been planted the soil will be level.
6. Fill the bottom of the hole with appropriate compost.
7. Roll the tree into place with its best side facing out, or according to your wishes.
8. Cut the wires and remove the basket, then untie the knot to remove the burlap.
9. Loosen the roots with a hand cultivator.
10. Backfill the hole with topsoil and compost.
11. Water thoroughly.
12. Stake if required.

Transplanting

There are a number of reasons to change a plant’s location: insufficient sunlight, space, or humidity, or new landscaping plans. Ideally, you should do your transplanting when plants are in a dormant state, on cloudy days in either spring or fall. Follow these steps:

  • Water the plant thoroughly a few days before transplanting.
  • Place a peat pot or piece of burlap close to the plant. This is where you will place the root clump. The size should be proportional to the size of the clump –between 1/2 and 2/3 the width of the plant.
  • Carefully cut a circle around the plant, large enough to retain a good-sized root clump.
  • Slowly lift out the clump and place it in the peat pot or on the piece of burlap.
  • Carry your plant to the new location and follow the directions above.
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