Planting a Shrub
Evergreen shrubs, such as hebes, make beautiful container features. For the maximum impact, buy a plant with healthy leaves and an attractive shape, and avoid those with lots of roots poking through the bases of their pots.
Prep the Pot
First, check that the pot has drainage holes in the bottom, and drill a few if there are none. Place broken crocks, or pieces of polystyrene — old plant trays are ideal — on the bottom to aid drainage. Do not block the holes.
Add Potting Mix
Start filling the pot with fresh loam-based potting mix (avoid any with peat). If the soil is lumpy, break it up. Stop filling when you can stand the plant in its container on the soil with a 2-in (5-cm) gap to the rim of the pot.
Create a Hole
Place the shrub in its container in the center of the pot, and start filling around it, firming in the soil. The aim is to create a hole for the plant to slot into, in exactly the right place and at the right depth. If it's off-center, try again.
Remove the Shrub
Gently lift the shrub in its container straight up and out of the pot, leaving the hole intact. If you haven't already done so, give the shrub a good drink and let the water drain away. This helps the plant get off to a good start.
Tease the Plant's Roots
Carefully remove the shrub from its container, taking care not to damage its roots or break off any top-growth. Then tease out the roots at the edge of the root ball to encourage them to grow outward.
Plant the Shrub
Gently lower the shrub into the hole, and firm in the potting mix all around. Add a little more mix, if needed, to give a level surface, but make sure it is no higher up the stem than when the plant was in its original pot.
Water in the shrub to settle the soil and to remove any air pockets. One good method is to pour the water onto an old crock so that it flows evenly and doesn’t expose the roots. Repeat in each corner of the pot.
Add Gravel or Pepples
As a final decorative touch, scatter gravel or small pebbles in a thin layer around the shrub. Available in various colors, they set off the plant and help to keep the potting mix moist by reducing evaporation.