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Planting out: An in-depth instruction guide

Planting out: An in-depth instruction guide

So you’ve purchased some plants and now it’s time to get planting! We know you’re excited (so are we!) but before you go all gung-hoe (see what we did there) and start digging holes all over your garden, it’s time to take a deep breath and plan out your planting journey. 

Planting out a garden is a big job and let’s face it – it can be kind of daunting! But don’t stress! With a little forward planning, some handy tips and a step-by-step approach, you can plant out the garden of your dreams!

How do you plant plants properly?

1. What’s your goal?

Before we give you any advice about planting out your garden, you need to decide what it is you want to achieve! What are your #gardengoals? Do you want to block out neighbours, or to create a native haven for the birds and bees? Do you want minimal and modern, a tropical oasis, or something super low maintenance? The best garden designs happen when you think ahead! 

2. Find plants that fit the bill!

Now you’ve got the vision, it’s time to find plants that will help it come to life. If you’re looking to add some privacy to your yard and screen out those neighbours, you’ll want hedges. Our top pick is Syzygium Resilience Lilly Pilly Hedging Pack as these babies are fast-growing, native and beloved by birds. Better yet it’s got a nice dense growth habit that will give you that privacy you’re looking for. 

If it’s a tropical look you’re after, check out our Tropical Gardens collection. We recommend starting out with structural trees like Frangipani or Palms around the boundaries of your garden so they provide shade and screening. Next layer in lots of dense shrubs (such as Anthurium, Cordyline, Ginger, Hibiscus, Ixora, Philodendron, Strelitzia and Croton plants) for a lush jungle feel. You can fill in any shaded gaps with Calathea, Liriope, Asplenium and Chlorophytum (Spider Plants). 

If you’re looking for something low maintenance, then check out our Drought Tolerant collection or Succulent Gardens collection for inspiration. We recommend embracing Australian native plants when possible, as they’re perfectly suited to Australia’s dry climate. There’s a huge range of Australian native shrubs, grasses and groundcovers to explore! 

Create a perimeter of taller Castillemons,  Melaleuca and Syzygium (Lilly Pilly) and then fill it out with native shrubs and grasses such as Lomandra, Grevillea, Westringia, Leptospermum and Austromyrtus, Native groundcover such as Myoporum, or Brachyscome are perfect for filling it all in. Once established, these babies can survive without water for long periods of time and better yet, they will support our native birds and bees! For a full list of native plants, check out our Australian Native Gardens collection

Simply overwhelmed with all the garden types? Then head straight to our full range of Outdoor Assorted Plant Packs they are already curated and here you can easily find your perfect garden pack match! 

3. Light matters!

Hold up boy! Before you go falling in love with a plant, make sure you have the right light conditions to support it! Have a look at the patch of garden you want to plant out and take note of the direction and amount of light the area gets. 

Exposed north or west facing gardens see sun all day long. While this may seem ideal (plants love light right?) it can be too much for some plant babies. If you want a healthy north or west facing garden you’ll need hardy plants that thrive in the sun. Australian native plants, such as Grevilleas, Castillemons, and Syzygium (Lilly Pilly) are ideal here. Succulents, cacti and most climbers (e.g. Jasmine, Bower Climber and Pandorea) will also thrive in the north or west. 

Southerly aspects miss out on strong, direct sunlight, especially during winter. This means that the plants you choose need to be able to handle less sunlight and cooler conditions. Full shade and part sun varieties such as Hydrangea, Rhododendron, Azalea, Syngonium, Anthurium and Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily) are your friends here. 

Keep in mind that buildings can create windy spots or channel the cold, especially in winter. If you have any narrow passages next to your house you may need to look at our Frost Tolerant collection

4. Suss out your soil pH

Before you plant, you need to make sure that your soil pH is suited to the plants you want to grow. Soil pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14 – the lower the number the more acidic the soil, and the higher the number the more alkaline the soil. Soil with a PH of less than 7 is acidic, soil with a PH of more than 7 is alkaline and soil with a PH that is bang on 7 is neutral. 

While the ideal soil pH for most plants is between pH 6–7 (slightly acidic to neutral), some plants can grow happily between pH 5–7.5. However, when your pH drifts outside this range, your plants will get sick.

Before you start planting out, you need to find out what kind of soil you’re working with. The best way to do this is by purchasing a soil pH test kit, following the instructions and then using the colour chart to determine your soil pH level! If it’s in normal ranges you’re good to go, but if not, it’ll need some tweaking.

For more info about soil pH and matching plants to your soil, click here

5. Correcting
soil pH

The most common soil issue in Australia is increased acidity. If you want to correct this, you’ll need to add dolomite (ground limestone) or Maglime fines, to up the soil pH. The lower the starting pH the more dolomite will be required. Start with 250gms for every square metre and check again in 3 months to a year to see how the pH value has changed.

If increased alkalinity is your issue, you can correct it by adding in organic matter such as compost, manures, leaf litter and mulch. In extreme cases, you can use powdered sulphur (about one handful per square metre, once a year). This will work very slowly (around 6 months), but shouldn’t be done without professional guidance. 

How to plant plants in the ground?

1. Spacing 

If you’re planting straight into the soil, then you need to get your spacing right. A general rule of thumb is to plant out according to how large the plant will grow. For example, a bush that is expected to grow 3 meters wide would be planted 3m from the next bush of the same variety, so they don’t grow into each other.

If you want to create a hedge or a screen with a denser habit, you need to space out your plants half of the width they’re expected to grow. For example, if the shrub is expected to grow 1 meter wide, you need to space each plant 50cm apart so they can knit together and create a nice continuous hedge when they reach maturity. 

When it comes to ground covers you’ll want to place small spreading growers about 10cm apart. Larger, vining varieties like start jasmine can be placed up to 1m apart. Ground cover grows super fast and love to fill out spaces, so again, refer back to the size guides to create a beautiful blanket of coverage.

Placement of climbing plants is totally dependant on how quickly your chosen climber grows. For fast-growing climbers, such as Bougainvillea, we recommend planting about 2m apart, but for slower more reluctant growers, you’ll want to plant out at smaller intervals. 

See more info about plant placement here

2. Planting out

Once you've found the right spot, you want to dig the perfect hole. What do we mean by that?

First, make sure your hole is the right size. Usually, this is twice the width and depth of the pot size being planted.

Once you've done that, water you hole thoroughly and add quality potting mix to  to give your plant a good head start in it's new home.

Add organic material like straw, aged forest mulch or compost around the top of the plant to keep weeds down and moisture in. Be sure not to have the mulch directly against the stem of the plant.

3. Watering technique

Once your babies are in the ground, you need to give them a big drink to settle the soil and kick start their growth. A great method is to start at one end of the garden and finish at the other end, then double back. The first watering will condition the soil, and the second water will ensure the water reaches deeper and give your plants a nice big drink. 

Once they’ve had their first drink you will need to establish an ongoing watering routine. By keeping your watering consistent you can get healthier growth and protect the fine hair-like roots of your plants. Just remember your new plant babes are fragile until they can spread their roots, so they’re relying on you watering them. Don’t let them go dry! 

As a rule of thumb, during the warmer months water your plants every day for the first couple of days, then twice a week for a few weeks, and then you can drop back to once a week. Always try to water in the early morning so the water has time to dry from the foliage during the day. This will help avoid any fungus or bacterial infections on your plants.

4. Watch the weather

If you want to create a happy, healthy garden, you should water most plants twice a week and your natives no more than once a week. It’s important to remember though that seasonal changes and rainfall will change how much you water! If it's windy and hot (or there’s a heat wave), you may need to water your plants once a day. During winter and periods of high rainfall, however, you don’t need to water as often. Once the rain has stopped, allow your soil to dry out a bit before you start watering again. 

How to plant outdoor plants in pots?

If you aren’t blessed with a large garden, or only have a patio or balcony – don’t despair! You can still create your very own oasis with a well planned out container garden. 

1. Find a vibe and plants to match! 

The first step is still to choose a vibe and then pick plants that match it. Are you after a floral paradise, a tropical escape, a native wonderland or something lower maintenance? You can shop our range of plant collections to find the right plants for the job. We even have a Balcony Gardens collection of porch ready greenery, which are perfect for pots, hanging baskets, planters and containers

2. Invest in the right pots

Okay say it with us! Good pots have drainage holes. And again! Good pots have drainage holes! Even if it’s the cutest pot you’ve ever seen in your life, if it doesn’t have drainage holes, your plant is going to suffer. Only use pots of containers with drainage.

Next, make sure you choose the right size! As a rule of thumb, your selected pot should be 1.5 times the size of its original pot. For example, if a plant is in a 300mm diameter pot, a 450mm pot is a good choice for the next size. Want to see how we got that? Half of 300mm is 150mm and then you add that to the original diameter giving you 450mm.

You can shop our full range of pots here

3. Pick the right soil

One of the biggest pluses of container gardening is that you can purchase specialised potting mix that will suit your plant’s pH and other nutritional needs. Planting natives? Find a quality potting mix low in phosphorous. Planting tropicals or flowering varieties? Choose a potting mix with sustained release fertilisers to feed your plants for months to come. You can’t go wrong with our Grow More Premium Potting Mix!

4. Pot it up!

Start by filling the bottom of your pot with a couple of centimetres of some gravel, pebbles or clay balls. This improves drainage even more by allowing the water to easily escape and not hold water around the plants roots. 

Next, fill your pot with potting soil so it fills about 3/4 of the pot. Flip your potted plant over, while holding its crown (where it first pokes out of the soil) and remove it’s current grow pot .You might need to give it a few taps and a few good squeezes to get it out. 

Give the root ball a gentle loosening before placing it into the pot. Continue adding in handfuls of potting mix around the sides and push it down gently to tuck your plant in so it’s nice and cosy. 

When planting into a pot one of the most important points is not to plant the plant to deep (roughly no more than 1-1.5cm above the existing soil level, depending on the plant variety).

5. Water them in

Once you’ve finished potting up your outdoor potted plants, give them all a big drink! You can then establish a watering routine. Pots will often dry out faster than in-ground plants (especially those in terracotta pots!) as there is less soil mass. So keep an eye on your potted babes and make sure to give them a good drink when they're thirsty.

Go forth, and plant out!

Now you’re armed with all the right info, get out there and get planting! Still got a few questions? Our friendly plant nerds are always happy to help. Just shoot us a message or subscribe to our newsletter for more tips, tricks and nerdy plant info!
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