Successful Planting 101

Step 1: Choose a location with conditions suitable for your new plant. For example, Wild Eastern Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) prefers partly sunny conditions.

Step 2: Always dig more hole than you think you need (at least twice as deep and twice as wide). You can go by the helpful adage, "always dig a twenty dollar hole for a ten dollar plant."

Step 3: Backfill the hole with the disturbed soil, and break up the root ball of your new plant before planting it. This helps your plant's roots expand into the surrounding soil (which is very important for the long-term health of your plant).

Step 4: Finish backfilling the hole. Once the hole is completely full, no potting soil should show above ground (it will dry out your plant to have potting soil exposed!), but don't bury your plant more deeply than it was in the pot; any part of the stem that was aboveground in the pot should still be aboveground. And make sure that your plant is even with the level of the soil: once you water it in (step 6), it should neither be sitting in a mound above the surface of the ground, nor should it be in a depression.

Step 5: Cover the area around your plant with a thin layer of mulch: in the spring and summer, this will help discourage weed seeds from sprouting near your new plant, and in the fall and winter, this layer will also help to insulate the ground slightly (thereby preventing repeated freeze-thaw cycles which may cause the plant to "heave" out of the soil).

Step 6: Water in thoroughly to help the plant's roots cope with the disturbance, and enjoy your new plant!

Randi V.W. Eckel, PhD