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What to Do with Your Plant When It Arrives

your new plant
by Ally North Ally North

You’ve ordered your new plants, waited excitedly by the door for a couple of days and now they’re here! To get your new arrivals off to the very best start, here’s what to expect and what to do as soon as that box of dreams lands on your doorstep.

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Potted perennials and shrubs

Remove your plants from the box as soon as you can, making sure to keep them upright to avoid spilling any soil. Any plant in a 9cm pot or larger is of a garden ready size, so it can go straight outside as long as it’s warm enough and the last chance of frost has passed (usually by mid May). If it’s too early to plant out, just keep your plants in a warm, light, frost-free place and water them regularly until you can get them in the garden.

planting perennial

Climbing plants

Climbing plants are potted and come in a tall box with a cane to support them. Take your climber out of the box carefully, holding it by the pot, and give it a water if the soil looks dry. You don’t need to remove the cane; in fact if you direct the cane towards the support you want it to grow up, it will help your plant to grow in the right direction. Once the plant is firmly fixed onto its permanent support (whether that’s by itself or you tying it in with twine), you can remove the cane if you wish.

climbing plant in pot

Bare root trees, hedges and fruit plants

Bare root trees and plants are sent while they’re dormant, so don’t have any leaves or flowers on them and can look like dead sticks. They will arrive in a bag or packet without a pot or compost, as they don’t need this while they’re dormant.

It’s best to plant your bare root tree as soon as you get it, but we know that’s not always possible as the ground can be frozen over or waterlogged in winter. Your tree will be fine for up to a week kept in a cold shed or garage but make sure the frost doesn’t get to it (once they’re in the ground, frost isn’t a problem).

If you still can’t plant your bare roots after a week, stand them in a bucket of water overnight so that they don’t dry out. You can also temporarily plant them in a large bucket of compost or soil and keep it in a sheltered place outdoors until they can be moved to their final position.

bare root tree in bucket

Potted trees

Potted trees are grown in compost in their containers and will arrive in a large box - this might be heavy and larger pot sizes may need to be handled by two people. Making sure it’s kept upright, carefully open the box and remove your tree, holding it by the pot or at the base of the trunk rather than by the thinner stems. 

Stand your tree in a sunny, sheltered place and if the soil looks dry, give it a water. Planting out as soon as possible allows your tree to spread its roots and get on with growing, but don’t worry if you can’t. Your tree will be fine in its grower’s pot or eco wrap for a few weeks - a bit of slow release fertiliser added to the soil will keep the nutrients from becoming depleted while you wait.

Plant your tree the expert way, with our head grower John.

Vegetable plants

Some vegetable plants come in individual pots and some in a tray containing several plants. Both kinds need to be taken out of the box as soon as you get them and given some water if they look dry.

For potted vegetable plants

These are garden ready size, so they can go straight in your beds or pots as long as it’s warm enough and the last chance of frost has passed (usually in mid May). If it’s too early to plant out, just keep them in a warm, frost-free place, repot them if they grow too big and water them regularly while you wait.

For strips of vegetable plants

These young plants will need to be grown on - that means that you need to carefully take them out of their strip and plant each one in its own pot of compost until it’s big enough to go in the garden. If the roots are tangled together, you can tease them apart in a bowl of water. Keep your young plants in a warm, light place and don’t let the soil dry out.

example veg strip

Pond plants

Your pond plants will arrive either as potted plants or in a bunch, packaged in a bag to keep them moist.

For bunches of pond plants

A lot of oxygenating plants come in bunches without a pot but with a metal weight attached. All you need to do with these is take them out of the bag (leave the weight on) and drop them in the pond, where they’ll sink to the bottom and take root.

For potted pond plants

If you’re not able to plant them straight away, take your new pond plants out of their box and put them in a shallow pot or tray of pond water out of direct sunlight to keep them hydrated. You can plant them at any time of year as long as there’s no ice on your pond. When you’re ready, follow our quick and easy planting guide or plant along with Caroline.

If it looks weird

Sometimes your plants arrive and they don’t look the way you expected. This is usually due to them being sent at a time of year when they’re naturally dormant (not in their active growth phase) and is nothing to worry about, as they’ll start growing again in spring. However if you’re worried, please check out our guide to troubleshooting your new plants and contact us if you have any questions.

Ready to plant?

When you’re ready to plant your new arrivals, have a look through our planting and care guides for expert tips from the people who grew your plants.

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