Before setting about the task of Planting Out any type or size of plant there are a number of basic rules one should follow to have any hope of achieving success.
Firstly you have to consider where the plants have been reared / stored prior to the planting out process.
In many instances this will have been in a heated / warm environment such as a greenhouse or shop.
In the case of the latter, in some shops the employee who has been designated to look after these plants may have had limited or no horticultural experience.
This could mean that on receipt of your plants, you may find a number of things wrong with your plant/s, here are a few to look out for;
The compost they are in is either too wet / dry.
Plants are looking rather anemic due to being stored in poor light, or at a temperature not suited to their needs.
Plants sent mail order may have encountered extremes of hot and / or cold in transit.
Plants may have met with some physical damage.
If you have raised the plants yourself then these should not be an issue!
If your plants have encountered any of the above there are some simple procedures you should apply before planting the out.e.g.
Are the in need of acclimatisation to the conditions they are about to be planted out in? (Hardening off)
Is the area they are to be planted out in suited to their needs? (Soil Preparation)
Has the plant/s become pot bound? (Loosening the roots/rootball)
Hardening off: (see here)
Tender plants require special care when planting out, as the climate outdoors can be a shock after the warm growing conditions found under cover.
Before planting out, harden off for at least a fortnight by keeping plants in a cold frame with good ventilation by day and closed at night or in cold weather.
A make shift arrangement consisting of a double layer of fleece laid over the plants for a week, followed by a week under a single sheet can achieve a similar effect if you do not own a cold frame.
Preparing the soil: (see here)
For best results the soil should be fertile, moist and well cultivated.
If the ground has not been dug before/during winter, fork it over as soon as the soil is dry enough.
Prepare the planting sites for bedding plants by raking in a general fertilizer at a rate of 2-3oz (50-90gm) per sq metre. (see manufacturers instruction)
Delay any planting until all risk of frost has passed.
Have some agri-fleece sheets at the ready for protection should there be a late cold snap.
Before planting out, ensure that the roots of the plant/s are moist.
If plants are densely packed in trays it is best to knock out the entire root mass, and gently pull them apart by hand, taking care to keep root damage/breakage to a minimum.
When planting, form a hole just larger than the root ball with a trowel/spade, and place the plant so that the top of the root ball is just covered*.
*Unless the planting instructions on the plant label says different.
When refilling gently firm the soil around the root ball.
Plants transplanted while in flower invest energy in producing more flowers rather than roots, prevent this by picking off all flowers before planting.
Spacing: Allow space between plants relative to their subsequent spread.
If plants have become too dry prior to planting out, soak them in a tray of water until the surface of the compost in the container darkens.
At this stage remove the container from the tray and allow any excess water to drain off.
Similarly,in dry spells, thoroughly water the soil in the planting area to ensure that it percolates to a depth of 150mm (6”) allow any surplus water to drain away before planting!
Once planted out thoroughly soak the area around the planting hole/s.
This should wash the fines in the soil into any air pockets that have been inadvertently formed when returning the soil into the planting hole.
After planting out do not let he area dry out until the plant has established itself, a sign of which is, the plant is likely to be standing erect and there is signs of fresh new growth.