Articles / Growing Plants / Planting

1 min read | by ANPS, Updated 29/03/2019

Plantings in spring and autumn are preferred for most Australian plants. Frost tender species are best planted out in spring after the danger of frosts has passed. This allows a full growth period for these plants to become established before the next winter. In summer, plant in the cool of the evening and provide some shelter from hot sun and wind for the first few weeks. In winter, plant with caution.


Having thought carefully about what you will plant and where and when, you are ready to start planting. Immerse the plant in the bucket of water then loosen the soil  around your planting spot within about 40 cms to a depth about 10 cms more than the plant container. Dig a hole 30-40 cms in diameter in the centre about the depth of the plant container.  By this time the air should have ceased bubbling from the pot in the bucket indicating complete saturation. Plant and soil should come away from the container with minimum root disturbance by holding the palm of the hand over the soil surface in the pot with the plant stem between the second and third fingers, inverting the container and tapping the sides and the base.


Loosen the root system of the plant gently around the outside of the rootball. If the plant is potbound a more severe root pruning may be necessary particularly if there is much root curl at the base or roots have turned back towards the top. If the roots cannot be straightened cut off the bottom 1-2 cms of the root ball with a sharp knife or secateurs and trim off any roots which have turned upwards. If the roots are pruned some pruning of the top growth will be needed to reduce the stress on the damaged root system due to transpiration. Do not prune the top from trees as this may result in poor form.


Some fertiliser applied at planting will help the plant off to a good start. Pelleted fertilisers formulated for native plants such as Nutricote 8-9 month release or the old standby, blood and bone are suitable. They can be placed in the bottom of the hole and covered with a little soil or mixed in with the soil which will be filled in around the plant.. Place the plant in the hole keeping it at the same level as it was in the pot, tamp the soil around the plant and then water. If you have used blood and bone sprinkle fresh soil over the area to minimise the scent otherwise the local dogs might dig up your new plant.  Do not stake unless absolutely essential as it invariably inhibits the development of a strong, self-supporting stem. If staking is necessary, place three stakes around the plant and tie it loosely to allow wind movement which will stimulate thickening . Remove the stakes as soon as the plant has become sturdy enough.


When you stand back to review a newly planted area you might be tempted to put in some more plants because the new ones seem so far apart. Resist the urge and stick to your plan or you might regret it later on when you are forced to cull plants fighting for light and moisture. If you can’t help yourself plant some annuals or other plants which will be past their best by the time your long term plantings need the space.


Source: Australian Plants for Canberra Region Gardens and other Cool Climate Areas” – a book which brings together over 50 years of gardening experience by members of the Australian Native Plants

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