Planting Instructions


Your new plants should be installed as soon as possible. If there is some delay in planting, then it is important to guard against moisture loss. Store plants in a shady, wind-protected area, and keep the root area evenly moist.

Balled and burlap

Many trees, shrubs and evergreens have the root ball wrapped in burlap and secured with string or rope. Large sizes have the ball contained in a wire basket. These must be planted just the way they are, burlap, rope and wire basket too. Fill around the ball with a good soil mix to three-quarters of the way up the root ball and water thoroughly.

THEN – untie all string or rope from the trunk or stems. Fold back burlap and ropes and tuck down out of sight. If there is a wire basket, fold back the loops and push down, leaving the wire basket on. Add more good soil mix to fill the hole. Water again using a root-stimulating transplant fertilizer.

Size of the Planting Hole

It is vital to dig your planting hole at least 5 inches larger than the root ball on all sides to allow for soil enrichment before planting. When planting large heavy balls, the soil at the bottom of the hole should be left untouched to prevent the tree from settling lower (see illustration). The finished level of the tree should be the same as it was grown, or up to 3 inches (8 cm) higher.

This diagram illustrates the size of the planting hole that needs to be dug.

Fibre pots

We cannot over-stress the importance of leaving the pot ON! These pots are made of paper and will rot away in the soil, and are readily penetrated by healthy plant roots. Break off the pot rim down to the soil level. Make three cuts halfway up from the bottom. DO NOT remove the bottom of the pot. Fill in around the pot with a good soil mix. Water thoroughly with a root-stimulating transplant fertilizer.

Plastic pots

Water thoroughly before removing the container. If a light tapping on the sides and bottom does not release the soil, make two cuts the length of the pot on opposite sides and gently pull away the halves. Use your fingers or a knife to loosen and spread exposed roots that appear crowded gently. To free very matted or circling roots, make several vertical cuts 1/2 to 1 inch deep through the root mass.

Perennials and annuals

These are usually grown in beds where 3 to 6 inches of sphagnum peat moss is spread over the surface and worked into the soil to a depth of 3 to 12 inches. A good general-purpose flowering fertilizer can be added at this time. Thorough bed preparation is important for healthy perennials since they will be growing in that same location for many years to come. If a specimen is being planted or added to an existing bed, then prepare the planting hole as you would for a tree or shrub.

Special care for special plants

Roses may be in fibre or plastic pots. Most roses are grafted onto a different rootstock. For reasons of hardiness, the grafted area (which will be the swollen area where the stems originate) must be planted two inches below the soil. For rhododendrons, azaleas and other broad-leafed evergreens, increase the amount of sphagnum peat moss used by half. Peaches, nectarines and cherries demand excellent fast, draining soil. DO NOT plant in wet areas. DO NOT overwater.

When the planting is completed…


Plants grown in plastic pots tend to dry out more quickly; therefore, more frequent watering may be necessary to avoid plant wilt. It takes several weeks for roots to extend beyond the original soil ball, so be sure to check this area as it often dries out faster than surrounding garden soil. Deep watering encourages a deep root system, and your plant will become more drought-tolerant.


Apart from their good appearance and the retarding of weed growth, mulches help to retain moisture. Mulch also keeps roots cool in summer and insulated in winter. Maintenance is easier, and your plants will thrive.

3 Easy Steps to Success

1. Plant the tree or shrub no deeper than it grew at the nursery.
2. It is necessary to plant trees and evergreens in soil that offers good drainage. Therefore, if you are planting in an area with heavy clay soil, you must make certain modifications before planting.
3. It is vital to dig your planting hole at least 5 inches larger than the root ball on all sides to allow for soil enrichment before planting.


  • The high-phosphorous transplanter-type fertilizer is the only appropriate fertilizer to be used in the first season.
  • You can help to prevent permanent damage or discoloration caused by desiccation (drying out) of evergreens by watering thoroughly in the fall before freeze-up.
  • Divert downspouts and sprinklers away from the planting area.
  • Water only when the soil feels dry to the touch, 2 to 3 inches down into the root area. Continue this form of watering until the plant is well established and growing.
  • A good soil mix is 50% soil, 25% peat moss, 25% compost or manure.

Article courtesy of Landscape

Back to Garden Centre Articles