Gardening Tip: Planting Native Plants
Here are a few tips to increase your success with planting of Western native plants:
• Be sure the ground is moist. If rains have not moistened the ground, give the
whole area a good soaking the day before planting.
• Dig a planting hole that is just a little bit wider and deeper than the pot in
which the plant is growing. The old ‘wisdom’ of digging a big hole doesn’t
work as well for native plants. The sooner a native plant’s roots can grow into
garden soil the better; a smaller hole accomplishes that.
• Don’t amend the soil in the planting hole. Amendments are not needed, and
may actually discourage good root growth. Just backfill the bottom of the hole
with a little loose soil; that’s all you need to do.
• If the soil surrounding the hole is dry, fill the hole with water and let it
drain before planting. Once again, this will encourage roots to grow out into
the surrounding soil.
• Remove the plant from the pot gently. Hit the sides and bottom of the pot
firmly with your hand to dislodge the plant. Then turn the pot upside down, and
let the plant drop into your hand.
• Loosen the roots by rubbing the root ball with the palm of your hand
(above). Just a gentle rub, all over, to loosen pot-bound roots and stimulate
them to grow.
• Check the depth of the hole. The potting soil surrounding the plant should be
level with the ground. Add or remove soil as needed (below) before placing the
plant in the hole.
• Fill in the planting hole with garden soil. You’ll have plenty left from digging
the hole. Be sure to fill in the holes all around the plant.
• Press down soil firmly around the plant. We often also gently step on the soil
to be sure that plant roots are in good contact with the soil. This step is critical
for getting roots to grow into the soil and establish a good root system quickly.
• If no rain is predicted, water in the plant with a good sprinkling with a
hose or watering can.
• Mark the new plant with a colored flag. You may also want to identify the
plant with a permanent marker.
• Take a picture of the new plant for your records.