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How To Keep Your Plants Alive!

A Checklist for Successful Planting

Unless you’re a landscaper (we know some good ones!), chances are you’ve been in this situation; you see a gorgeous plant at the nursery. It looks good, smells good, and you know it’ll look just perfect in that spot alongside your garden wall.

You take it home and plant it. Easy! Surely the sun and rain should take care of it, right?

1 week later you’re looking at a severely drooping plant and wondering where on earth you went wrong.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are a few expert tricks to make sure your plants stay alive and thus ensuring your garden looks gorgeous all year around.  Luckily for you, we’ve put together a handy checklist to ensure your planting is always successful.

1 / Choose the right plants

Do you need groundcover, fragrance, colour or some plants for a favourite pot? Check out our article here for how to choose the perfect plants for your space (so you’re not left wandering the aisles of the nursery looking lost!).

Know the weather:
Notice whether the spot is sunny or shady. If it’s sunny - is it all day sun all year round, or morning sun or afternoon sun? If it’s shady - it is always shady or just at certain times of the year?
Most plants will grow in spots that have 4 - 6 hours of sun a day, but a lot don’t cope with full sun all the time, especially in the middle of summer.  Weather conditions of each spot are important!

Also know yourself! If you can’t be trusted with watering regularly or you go away for long stretches at a time then be honest with yourself - your plants and garden will thank you for it! Succulents, aloes and other desert type plants will be the perfect option for you.


2 / Spacing for growth

The best idea ever: Grab a pencil and a piece of paper and put together a quick sketch of the space you have. Now, check how big each plant will grow, and (using circles as a guide) pop these into your diagram, making sure you space them for their full growth.

For example, a good rule of thumb for hedging is to plant 0.8m apart.
Sometimes with new plants, it’s tempting to plant them too close together purely because of their small size – but once they grow they’ll look crowded and their growth may be hindered if they’re really squeezed in there!

Top Tip:
Make sure your diagram circles overlap or touch just slightly, so there are no spaces in your garden bed once fully grown.

3. Ground prep

A step you can’t miss! Remove any unwanted plants (don’t forget the roots!). Using a weedkiller, follow the instructions carefully and spray the entire area of empty soil. Rotovate ground (this breaks up the soil) and remove any remaining weeds or larger stones.

4. Condition the soil for optimal growth

In the top 100mm of soil, dig in:

-        Gypsum and sheep pellets: 2-3kgs per square metre
-        Blood and bone: 200grams per square metre
-        Use a quality garden mix to top up beds and add to any new planting holes. This should not be compost - there’s a huge difference between garden mix and compost, the latter often being too rich for clay soils on the North Shore of Auckland.

5. Time to plant!

Dig a hole that’s wide enough for the roots to spread, making sure you loosen up the soil at the bottom of the hole.

Place the plant (still in its pot) into a large bucket of water and saturate the roots before planting! If you want to give the plant an extra boost, put some liquid fertiliser in the bucket too.  

Keep it in there until air bubbles have stopped rising to the surface of the bucket, then remove.
Add granulated slow release fertilizer into the hole and pop your plant in! Backfill evenly with topsoil so the ground level matches that around it.


6. Water

You’re going to want to water your plant a) as soon as it’s planted, before you add mulch and, b) regularly during its first season and after any dry spells.  

During the summer, it’s best to water less frequently but more thoroughly. Try a bucket of water twice a week (double the volume of the pot the plant came in) instead of a little bit each night. This encourages roots to grow down deep into the soil, rather than towards a light sprinkling of water at the surface (roots that grow up to the surface are more prone to getting fried by the hot sun).


7. Mulch

The secret to suppressing weeds! Put a 10cm layer of bark mulch around any new plants (just keep it away from any stems).

That’s it! If you follow this handy checklist your flowers will be bright, your leaves glossy and your garden beautiful all year round. Most importantly, no more drooping plants or sad looking flowers just weeks after planting!

Follow this checklist to make sure your plants stay alive and get the best start for your newly loved garden.

Happy planting!


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