How to plant a shrub
Shrubs are some of the most essential plants in a garden, providing structure and shape and forming the year round backbone to beds and borders. But there is so much more to them than this. Reliable plants, shrubs also bring leaf colour, scent and flower and there is such a huge range of different shrubs available, both deciduous and evergreen, that there is a shrub to suit every garden and situation.
Most shrubs are chosen for their beautiful flowers and unlike herbaceous perennials, which only flower through the spring and summer, there are hosts of flowering shrubs in bloom all the year round. There are endless numbers of flowering shrubs in flower through the summer but there are shrubs, such as viburnum and pyracantha, that are a mass of flowers, often laden with heady scent, throughout the winter months too, shrubs like ribes and spiraea are at their peak in spring, whilst shrubs such as euonymus and cornus are alight with autumn colour or dripping with luscious berries throughout the autumn.
Shrubs For Shade
Shrubs are also ideal plants for growing in tricky spots in the garden, such as shady corners and beds. Shade is a common problem in gardens and most plots will have at least one area that is in shade for most of the day. As gardens get smaller they are more likely to be overlooked and bordered by buildings, trees and walls and north and east facing gardens are particularly cold and shady. Although it sounds difficult, shade is actually much easier to deal with than the opposite extreme of full sun, and thankfully there is a whole range of shrubs for shade that will not only cope, but positively thrive in a shady spot.
Particularly lovely are the flowering shrubs for shade such as sweetly scented mahonia, acid loving camellias and the ever popular hydrangeas, all of which brighten dull corners beautifully. But no matter which shrub you are growing and where in the garden you are growing it, all shrubs need to be planted and cared for the same way.
When planting shrubs it is important to get it right to ensure you get your plants off to the best possible start. Container grown shrubs, such as those generally found at the garden centre, can be planted at any time of year, although those planted in the autumn and winter will be easier to look after than those planted during the spring and summer. The very best time for planting shrubs is during the autumn, when the soil is still warm enough for roots to establish quickly and the winter rains will help to settle plants in a and save you the effort of watering!
1. Soil Preparation and Correct Depth
Before planting, prepare the ground by digging it over to loosen the soil and then dig a hole, no deeper than the roots of the plants but about three times as wide.
Gauge the correct depth for your shrub by planting it at the same depth it was at in its pot. Planting too deeply can cause the stem to rot and the plant to eventually die so it is important to get the depth right.
2. Guide To Planting
Tap the shrub out of its pot and then gently tease the roots from the rootball before placing it in the hole. Mix some well-rotted animal manure or compost in with the soil from the hole and then refill with this, taking care to get soil in and around all the roots to remove any air pockets. Firm the soil gently with your heel, and then water your shrub in well.
3. Water Your Shrub
One of the biggest causes of death in new plants is drought stress, so keep your shrub well watered, especially in very hot, dry weather through the summer, until it is established.
4. Repotting Shrubs
Most shrubs will also grow perfectly happily in containers but they will be more demanding on you for water and food than shrubs grown in the ground and will also need re-potting into fresh compost every few years.