March is the right time to start thinking about planting your
landscape. Most plants come either in pots or bare rooted.
Pot-grown plants often need a few days in the shade outside to
“harden off” if they have been grown in a greenhouse. Water as
needed and give them a chance to adjust to the changing
temperatures before you shock them again by planting them.
Wet to wet is the usual thought in planting, so soak the potted
plant right before you plant it. Dig a hole not much larger
than the pot — about two inches larger than the diameter of
the pot usually works. Separate the roots gently, cutting only
if the ball is tightly packed. Set the plant in the hole so the top
of the root ball is even with the surface of the soil; then push
soil around and over the top of the root ball. Water well and
Woody plants, which are planted in unimproved soil like
our yards, need a much wider hole (three to five times the
width of the pot.) Break up the root ball as before and spread
the roots out. Plant high and backfill with the soil that came
out of the hole. Water well and make a large basin like ridge
around the plant to funnel water to the roots.
Bare-rooted plants need a large hole to enable you to spread
out their roots. Remember to soak the bare roots. Make a
cone in the center of the hole and spread out the roots evenly.
Once again, plant high and push soil gently over the crown
of the plant. If you are unsure which end is up, do not worry.
The plant knows, and will send shoots up and roots down!
Water the plant each day for seven days to give it a little extra
chance. Fertilizer is appropriate after the first signs of
Written by Nancy Fenton, Master Gardener