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How to plant climbers
The key to success when planting a climber is to make sure that the soil is in good condition and the roots are away from the dry conditions found at the base of a wall. After planting, it’s also good to cover the soil with mulch to prevent competition from weeds and help retain all available moisture around the roots of the plant.
When to plant?
Container-grown climbers can be planted at any time of the year, except when the soil is frozen or waterlogged. Autumn is the ideal time for deciduous climbers because the soil is still warm enough to encourage some root growth before the onset of winter. This helps the climber establish quickly so that it is more able to withstand any hot, dry spells the following summer.
Container-grown evergreen climbers can also be planted in autumn, but in exposed gardens, they’re best planted in April (May in colder areas).
Protect all vulnerable climbers over winter by covering them with a warm layer like a fleece.
Seven steps to success
First of all, make sure there is a suitable support for the climber – like a trellis. If planting against a wall or fence makes the planting hole about 45cm away from the base to avoid the dry soil found in these areas.
Next, dig a hole at least twice as wide and slightly deeper than the climber’s container. Mix the soil you’ve removed with well-rotted organic matter (compost) and leave it to one side.
Nearly all climbers should be planted at the same depth as in the pot. Check the hole is at the right depth by laying a cane or piece of straight timber across the hole. If the climber is standing too high you’ll need to remove some of the soil in the bottom of the hole, or if it’s too low then top it up a bit.
Water the climber thoroughly and allow it to drain. Gently tip the plant on its side and, with one hand on top of the compost and around the climber to support it, ease the climber out of its pot.
Carefully pull out any roots that are circling around the bottom or sides of the pot, so they grow away from the rootball and into the surrounding soil. Position the climber in the centre of the hole and lean it back towards the bottom of the support at a 45-degree angle. Then fill in the gaps around the sides of the plant with soil mixture, firming it down gently as you go.
Once the hole has been filled, gently firm the soil once more – to get rid of any air pockets and make sure the plant is secure. Water the climber again using at least one full watering can. Then cover the soil with a generous layer of mulch, such as chipped bark to help prevent weeds and reduce the amount of water loss from the soil.
Untie the climber from the support cane supplied in the pot and space out and tie in all the stems to the new support system.