Planting (General Information)

Proper planting is an important step for any plant to get off to a great start. But an important factor to consider is what it is you want to plant. Whether you are planting annuals or perennials, flowers or vegetables, a garden or a window box — doing it right can make a huge difference in your plants success.

For detailed step-by-step instructions, see our planting project for more information. Below, we offer a few tips on where to plant, when to plant and some best practices to get you started.

Where to plant

Consider climate conditions and the site when planting. Before buying anything, you will need a good idea of the amount of sun the area will receive on a daily basis and how much moisture the area receives.


Flowers are usually categorized by whether they will be growing in full sun (at least 6 hours), partial sun or shade. Some tolerate wet soil, but most prefer good drainage.


Vegetables for the most part, like sun. While many thrive with lots of water, that doesnt mean they like constantly wet soil. Good air circulation around the growing plants is a requisite.

Trees and shrubs

Trees and shrubs have similar preferences, so be sure and do your research or read the plant tags carefully before bringing them home to plant in your garden.

Make the most of sun by planting taller plants in the back so they won’t block shorter ones. Or in a circular bed, put the tallest plants in the center. Generally, the tallest plants go at the back, medium plants in the middle, and the shortest plants at the front, or border.

Set plants out in their containers before you plant them so you know exactly where you want them. Move them around and experiment with locations before setting shovel to dirt.

When to plant

Ideally, you’d plant best after a rain, on a cloudy day or in late afternoon in cool conditions. This enables the plants to get established with minimum stress.

Try to avoid planting when intense sun and heat can stress newly transplanted plants. If you can’t plant right away, set the plants in a shaded area and be sure to keep them well watered.

Don’t rush the season. Wait until the soil, not just the weather, is warm.

Don’t purchase before you are ready to plant. Flowers and plants outgrow their containers quickly and will enjoy having more room to grow, so plant them quickly after you buy them.

Best practices

Lightly water the bed one hour before planting. This makes the soil more workable for you and suitable for the plant; do not over-water, however, or you’ll be working in mud.

A light watering will also help you pull out and remove all weeds from the planting area.

Work the soil, but don’t over-prepare the bed. If the soil is raked until it is as fine as dust, the first rain will turn your work to mud; when the soil dries, a hard crust will form and inhibit plant growth.

If planting from flats, pull the plants apart gently; do not cut them — root systems may be damaged.

Set the plants at the same depth as they were in their original container.

Be sure the root area remains moist during the critical first few days.

Once youre done planting, remember to feed your plants.