1. Dig the hole no deeper than the depth of the soil in the pot and double the width to ensure good root establishment. To read why you don’t dig a huge whole and replace all the soil (click here)
2. Add a small amount of bonemeal, enough to just whiten the bottom of the hole and mix in lightly. Adding mycorrhizal fungi? (click here)
3. Carefully remove the plant from the plastic pot by pressing on the bottom of the pot. If the plant doesn’t come out fairly easily you may need to run a long knife or something similar around the circumference of the (top of the) pot between the soil and the plastic. Plants which don’t come out of their pots easily may well be pot-bound and have girdled roots (evidenced by roots circling the rootball). You may have to use a knife or other cutting implement to remove the pot while being careful not to cut into the rootball. If you can save the pot intact then most garden centres would be happy to take it back where they will bleach it and re-use it. Plants root-n bound? (click here). Plants in a fibre pot? (click here). Plants in a wire basket? (click here). Plants in a wire basket surrounded by plastic (click here). Plants in burlap with no visible wire around the rootball (click here)
4. Place the plant in the hole ensuring that the top of the rootball is level with or slightly higher than the surrounding soil. More than 8” of new soil (click here). Hole accidentally dug too deeply? (click here). Planting on slope? (click here) Planning to build up the soil in this area at a later date? (click here)
5. Using the original soil from the hole, fill the hole in halfway up around the rootball. For information on soil amendments (click here).
6. Water well to remove any air pockets around the roots. To speed up the process you can also use a shovel (or other) handle and work the soil you have just added before watering. This also helps remove air pockets (which helps to provide maximum contact between the roots and soil)..
7. Fill in the remaining soil, tamping gently with your foot (exert as much pressure as you would if you had just twisted your ankle and were trying to determine how bad the damage was).
8. Water well again to remove any remaining air pockets.