Sources of plants

The source depends on the type and quantity, but is usually from specialist nurseries, garden centres or mail order, including the Internet. Plants are supplied in the following ways:

  • Bare rooted plants are taken from open ground in the dormant period (p115). Whilst cheaper, these are only available for a limited period and need to be planted out in the autumn or spring when conditions are suitable; in practice this is mainly October and March. Roots should be kept moist until planted and covered with wet sacking while waiting. Plants received well before the time for permanent planting out should be 'heeled in' (i.e. temporary planting in a trench to cover the roots).
  • Root balled plants are grown in open ground, but removed with soil, and the rootball is secured until used by sacking (hessian). This natural material does not need to be removed at planting and will break down in the soil. This reduces the problems associated with transplanting larger plants.
  • Containerized plants are also grown in open ground, but transferred to containers. Care needs to be taken to ensure that the root system has established before planting out unless treated as a bare-rooted stock.
  • Container-grown plants, in contrast, are grown in containers from the time they are young plants (rather than transferred to containers from open ground). This makes it possible to plant any time of the year when conditions are suitable. Most plants supplied in garden centres are available in this form.

It is essential that care is taken when buying plants. Besides ensuring that the best form of the plants are being purchased and correctly labelled, the plants must be healthy and 'well grown'; the plants should be compact and bushy (see etiolated p153), free from pest or disease and with appropriately coloured leaves (no signs of mineral deficiency; see p127). The roots of container plants should be examined to ensure that they are visible and white rather than brown. The contents of the container should not be rootbound and the growing medium not too wet or dry.

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