How do I look after perennials on arrival?

When your parcel arrives in the post from a mail order nursery open the parcel right away and soak the roots in water for at least 15 minutes.  Then depending on plant either pot into a suitable sized container or straight into the ground. You can pot plants right away all year round to help build up the root system again and then plant out when the soil and weather conditions allow. A good general multi-purpose compost is fine provided you add at least 10 to 20% sharp grit. This helps the drainage and keeps the container from getting blown over. When planting into the ground prepare your soil well in advance by forking it over to get plenty of air into the soil.  Add a good helping of leaf mould, garden compost or a general fertiliser and mix it in well and let it settle for at least two weeks before planting. Then when planting just scrape back a hole in the ground enough to cover the roots and firm in gently. It is a good idea to leave a small indent in the soil around the plant to act as a well to hold the water so as it gets to the plants roots right away and does not run over the soil. Water in well for the first two to three days even if it is raining to give the plant the best chance. Depending on weather conditions then water at least once a week with a dilute liquid feed during active growth (late Spring to Mid Summer) this will help your plant get established better.  When potting your plants up do not use too large a container pot the plants up in stages so if you receive a plug plant use a 9cm pot grow on until you see the roots starting to grow through the base then repot on into a 12-14cm pot.  When watering newly potted plants best to put the pot in a saucer of water and let the water get up to the plant by capillary action this will encourage the roots to go looking for the water and the plant will get better established quicker this way.  Cover your newly potted plants for the first two days with newspaper to keep the strong sun off your plants and to help the plant not loose too much water.  Place pots below bench in glasshouse or coldframe then gradually move the pot up to get full sun after a week moving it gradually each day into more light.
Finally when you plant is large enough transplant into your border.

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