Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Bare-roots can be planted now

While the onset of the harsh winter season is typically associated with different kinds of garden activity from new growths, there are still quite a few plants that need to be planted at this time of year.

Bare-root plants are just one example of this – provided the garden is not situated in a part of the country where the ground is likely to freeze over. Even if this is the case, use could still be made of a greenhouse for smaller plants such as bare-root roses.

The Bayer Garden advises green-fingered enthusiasts with this kind of activity in mind to soak roots overnight before planting. By placing the plant in a bucket of muddy water, the mud will be able to cling to the roots. This stops them from drying out when they are planted – so it is strongly advisable for the long term survival of the root.

Good drainage is another necessity for bare-root plants – so the ground also needs to be checked prior to planting. The most straightforward way of doing this is to fill the hole in which the plant is to be placed with water, then let it drain before filling it again. If the hole has not completely drained within 24 hours, there are probably underlying drainage issues.

Celebrity gardener and former presenter of the Gardener's World television show Toby Buckland said that if the soil in a planting hole is richer than the soil that surrounds it, growth could be stunted. In an article for the UK national newspaper the Daily Telegraph, he said that it is preferable to create an even balance of compost and the harsher conditions in the border.

"The shape of a planting pit isn't important except on heavy clay. Here, square rather than circular is the shape to dig, as the corners guide roots out from the hole," the expert commented.

"In round holes, roots can circle indefinitely, especially where the sides of the pit are smeared – like the insides of hand-thrown clay pot – by your spade," Mr Buckland continued, adding: "The straight outline of a square pit also makes it easier to protect surrounding grass during planting."

The Bayer Garden also recommend mulching heavily – and with organic matter like compost, ground or bark. Covering the canes is also a good idea, as it can help to prevent them from drying out.