Prepare for Autumn Planting
Prepare for planting
If you’ve cleared some space in the borders it’s a good time to prepare the soil for autumn planting. Shrubs, trees, hedging plants and new roses are all entering their dormant period and next month sees the start of the busy planting season for these permanent plants.
It's also prime bulb planting time so it makes sense to get the soil ready as soon as spaces appear. Bare root biennials such as wallflowers and Sweet Williams are also ready to order and plant, plus hardy bare root perennials for beds and borders.
Prepare for Bare root roses, trees, shrubs and hedges. Get ahead this month by preparing the soil for permanent plants now; and order any planting compost, tree stakes and planting tools so you can plant your new bare root plants as soon as possible after they’re delivered. Delivery normally starts from October onwards.
Check that your spades and forks are up to the job, it’s so frustrating to have a handle snap just as you’re raring to plant a new tree or shrub.
Dig over the areas where you plan to put in new bare root plants. Remove any weeds and give the soil a boost with some garden compost or humus rich organic matter. Sprinkle a dusting of bone meal too, this slow release fertiliser can help give new plants a flying start.
Newly dug soil will settle over a few weeks so digging and improving it now means it will be in fine fettle when you are ready to plant.
Prepare soil for bulb planting. Most bulbs need to be planted into well drained and moderately fertile soil. Good drainage and ample sunshine is important for bulbs such as Tulips that originate from countries such as Turkey and Iran where summers are hot and often dry; while winters can be very cold. Bulbs such as camassias and snakeshead fritillaries are exceptions, because they naturally thrive in moist meadows.
If you garden on heavy or wet soil then add some horticultural grit to the bottom of the planting hole as you plant the bulbs. This will help improve the drainage and prevents the bulbs from rotting.
If you are planting bedding plants with your bulbs then add some general purpose fertiliser to poorer soils; but a freshly bought bulb has all the nutrients it needs already inside the bulb. It will normally only need feeding from year two.
Woodland plants and bulbs. Many bulbs thrive in soil under trees and shrubs. The early flowering bulbs such as snowdrops and crocuses bloom before the leaves appear on the trees, which means they get adequate moisture and sunlight before the tree canopy shades the soil beneath. Woodland plants generally enjoy a soil that is rich in humus, so add leaf mould if necessary, it is low in nutrients but bulks up dry soils and helps to replicate a natural woodland habitat.