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Transplanting to Whenua

Ngutukākā thrives in sunny, open, steep and well drained sites. It doesn’t mind a bit of wind but doesn’t tolerate frost well. Choose a site that you can access safely and where the brilliant shows of spring colour will be enjoyed by many, but away from wandering stock or hares and rabbits, who will devour the tasty seed pods if they get the chance.

Slugs and snails are also a huge threat to ngutukākā, so avoid planting near long grass and plants like harakeke that are often filled with snails. In warmer regions, plant in late autumn, winter or early spring, well before summer droughts.

When you’ve found the perfect spot, Graeme recommends spraying the spot the day before, not just to stop grass like kikuyu coming through, but to help keep all weeds at bay.

On planting day, water your ngutukākā while still in the pot/bag thoroughly. Trim any broken branches. Dig a hole that is the same depth and twice the width of your pot/bag, and sprinkle the hole with a handful of your favourite water storing retention crystals and a fertiliser pellet or two. Gently break up the sides of the hole slightly, especially if your soil is heavily compacted and/or clay.

Next, gently tip the ngutukākā container on an angle and start to remove the plant from the plastic, making sure to keep as much of the soil around the roots as possible. You may need to squeeze the sides of the container gently and/or give the base of the container a gentle tap.

When the plant comes free, check it is not root bound. Gently tease out the base of the root ball with your hands, and place the plant in the hole. Gently fill the hole to the same level of the ground around it, compacting around the base of the ngutukākā with your hands to make sure it is stable.

Water again thoroughly, making sure the water penetrates to the depth of the root ball. Cover liberally with mulch.


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