Caring for your plants after arrival
On receiving your parcel open it immediately and water the plants if required (we avoid sending plants out with very wet root balls.) Until planting ensure that plants are kept watered and in a well lit but not too hot position. In cold weather, tender plants must be kept frost free. A windowsill, heated conservatory or greenhouse is the best place - a garage, shed or unheated greenhouse will not be satisfactory. If someone is taking the parcel in for you, especially if you are not due to collect it within a day, please ensure they carry this out on your behalf.
Most of our plants are pot grown, typically in 9 cm (3.5 ") pots, for growing on to maturity. We normally send them in their pots to protect the root balls. We only send plants bare-rooted if they are field grown or where the removal of the pot and excess compost is necessary to save weight or space in the packing box.
Occasionally I send out plants that are not quite established , i.e. the root ball may be a bit loose, in which case I include a 'recently potted' label.
At certain times of the year, especially winter, plants may arrive in their dormant state i.e. without leaves, as a small crown of shoots or a bulb/tuber. This is the normal, natural state for many deciduous plants at this time of year. Plants in a dormant state may arrive in their pots or bare-rooted (see below)
Bare rooted plants
You may receive your plants bare rooted where they have either been field grown or we have removed the pots and excess compost to save weight and space. Typically these would be hardy plants which have been lifted in the Spring or Autumn. Larger clumps should ideally be planted straight away if the ground is moist and not frozen. If you cannot do this, keep them in a cool shady place, ensuring the roots are kept moist but not sitting in water. Either wrap the root balls in damp newspaper or temporarily heel them in to a patch of ground and water in. Smaller clumps will benefit from being potted on first and grown on in a sheltered location until they can be planted out.
The ideal time for planting most hardy plants is in late Summer to Autumn or Spring, when the weather is cool (but not freezing.) Heat stress is reduced as the days are shorter, cooler and the air tends to be more humid. Below ground, the soil is warm and not too wet or dry and plants will be encouraged to establish a healthy root system.
Planting in the summer months is possible but more attention is needed to keep plants well watered after planting. It is best to avoid planting during very hot weather as the stress on plants may be too great. If the soil is very dry, soak the root ball in a bucket of water for an hour. If the ground is at all dry, fill the planting hole with water, let this drain away before planting. The soil should be firmed around the root ball, and watered thoroughly to fill in air pockets. Spread a mulch of bark, compost, gravel or even dry soil around the plant. In dry spells, the plants should be watered regularly and thoroughly until established. From spring to autumn rain is seldom sufficient to soak the soil. It is important that the root ball is not allowed to dry out as the compost will shrink away from the side of the planting hole preventing the roots from penetrating the surrounding soil.
If plants are in active growth, producing new shoots or flowers, it is best to leave these in their existing pots for a couple of weeks to acclimatise to their new surroundings before potting on. Wait until they have settled into their new environment and watering regime, then pot on into a slightly larger pot using the recommended compost. Avoid potting a small plant straight into a large pot as the excess compost can become stagnant before the roots can penetrate it. The growth rate of most conservatory plants begins to slow in late summer as they approach winter dormancy. We normally recommend that you do not pot plants up any later than August and wait until you start to see active growth in the spring. When plants are dormant wait until they are showing signs of active growth before potting up.