How to choose and use plug plants

How to use plug plants  

Plug plants are small plants which are ready to plant out. PlantWild plugs are larger than most with a root ball of approx. 50mmx25mmx25mm and they will start to flower in the first spring or summer after planting. We recommend 2 to 10 plug plants per m2 depending on the plant species and the planting site. They can be planted out in spring or autumn and can go into a prepared bare site or in amongst other plants. They can also be planted in summer if they can be watered regularly until established.

Plug plants are an economical way of buying a large number of plants and more reliable than sowing wildflower seeds. They can be used in any area of the garden, cottage garden beds, drift planting, difficult shady areas, pond edge, ground flora for newly planted woodland and wildflower meadows.

If they are species suitable for naturalising into grassland they may be planted in a seed bed at the same time as seed sowing or they can go in later, once the seed has started to establish. In existing grassland they can go in in autumn or spring as long as the sward is cut very short when they are planted. Competition from surrounding grasses can be reduced by spraying small circles of grass and allowing them to fade to yellow before planting in the centre. You may want to choose flowering species which are not already present in the seed mix, use plug plants to enhance a more visible area of a large meadow or extend the flowering season by choosing early or late flowering species.

 

Planting  Plugs can be planted with a small trowel or a dibber the same size as the rootball and must always be watered well and prevented from drying out for several weeks until they are established. If planting into heavy clay soil the plants will establish better if given a larger hole and surrounded with a clay/compost mix.

When positioning your plugs in a hay meadow you may want to consider whether they are early or late flowering. Different parts of a meadow could be cut on 2 different dates to allow a good hay crop to be collected and also allow late flowering species to flower and set seed. This gives greater diversity to the meadow and allows a refuge and nectar source for wildlife when the main part of the meadow is cut for hay. It is a good idea to plant plugs in groups of at least 5 of the same species. This gives a natural look and helps the bees to locate the plants when they flower.

Rabbits enjoy plug plants. If you have a lot of rabbits please consider the wisdom of providing them with expensive food. You can protect plants with wire mesh or thorny twigs until they are established.