How to plant a shrub

Shrubs are woody plants that should last many years in your garden - here's how to get them off to a good start.

Time required
30 minutes
Level of expertise needed
Beginner
How to plant a shrub

Equipment


  • Shrub in a pot
  • Spade
  • Fork
  • Cane
  • Watering can
  • A bucket of garden compost or soil conditioner
  • Mulch (organic matter like chipped bark)

Top tip!

Container-grown shrubs can be planted at any time of the year, but best between autumn and early spring when it’s not too hot. Water well at least twice a week for the first two years.

1
Step 1
Step 1

Give your shrub a good water, so the pot is completely soaked.

2
Step 2
Step 2

Dig a hole a little deeper than pot depth and three times as wide. Hard, compacted soil should be forked to loosen it to help the roots penetrate.

3
Step 3
Step 3

If the soil is very sandy or a heavy clay, mix in organic matter (garden compost or bags of soil conditioner) to help it hold water and drain better.

4
Step 4
Step 4

Tip the plant out of its pot. If the roots are very congested, tease out a few. This will help them explore and grow into the soil more quickly.

5
Step 5
Step 5

Place your shrub at the same level it was in its pot. Don’t bury the stems. To check this, place a cane or flat object across the hole to see where the soil level is.

6
Step 6
Step 6

Refill the hole by slicing in the soil around the soil’s edge and back fill with your dug out soil.

7
Step 7
Step 7

Use your heel to firm the soil around the shrub, but don’t press on the root ball itself. Then water well, creating a puddle before it drains away.

8
Step 8
Step 8

Add a 5-8cm (2-3in) layer of mulch, but leave a 10cm (4in) mulch-free collar around base of stems.

All how to guides

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.