A Guide to Planting a Flowering Hedge.
Flowering hedges are a friend to the environment, enhancing biodiversity of the garden and the ecosystem. Planting flowering hedgerows means that bees can feed on a range of different flowers from March right through to October, taller vegetation will benefit insects such as butterflies and grasshoppers.
Fruiting trees such as Mountain Ash or Native Cherry through the flowering hedges will also provide food sources to birds such as yellow hammers and skylarks. Planting hedges will also provide important corridors for birds, insects and mammals to move safely in the habitat and indeed hedgerows are very effective at capturing carbon. To amplify the fruiting and flowering load of the hedge we recommending pruning or cutting on a three year cycle.
Some of the benefits of Planting flowering hedges include:
- Soil Protections
- Reduce pollution
- Flood Control
- Crop Protection
- Shelter & Shade for animals
- Wood Fuel
- Pest Control
- Wildlife & Pollinators
Here at Cullen Nurseries we recommend you include some of the following flowering hedging plants to reap the benefits of a mixed flowering hedge.
Species of Flowering Hedging Plants
Whitethorn – Crategus monogya Makes up the basis of most native hedges in Ireland. It’s thorny structure makes it a safe haven for smaller birds and animals, protecting them from unwanted predators. The white flowers that appear in May are both eye catching and plentiful. Once pollinated, these flowers give rise to bright red berries in Autumn time.
Hazel – Corylus avellana has a smooth grey brown bark with round or oval shaped leaves and an eye catching marzipan yellow catkin in January and February. The more mature plants produce hazelnuts. Hazel is an ideal plant for coppicing.
Crab Apple – Malus sylvesteris is a deciduous plant that produces crab apples as it matures. It produces a plentiful and bountiful supply of white flowers in Summer months. A great friend to pollinating bees, it also produces a food source and supply for ground mammals in the form of crab apples which fall to the ground when ripe. Crab apple does well in a hedge but can also be grown as a tree.
Wild Pear – Pyrus communis is a deciduous plant that produces deep green, pointed oval shaped leaves. Spring sees the Wild pear covered in attractive white blossoms, which are pollinated by bees, followed in Autumn months by small yellow pears (edible after roasting or boiling). Wild Pear can be retained in a hedge or indeed allowed to grow as a tall columnar tree.
Dog Rose – Rosa canina is a deciduous climbing wild rose species of plant. It produces lovely pink colour flowers during Summer Months, which are scented, followed by reddish orange Vitamin C rich hips in Autumn months. The flowers are incredibly attractive and Dog Rose is a fast growing plant, ideal for mixed flowering hedges.
Spindle – Euonymous europeaus is a deciduous plant that has oval shaped leaves that turn a crimson red in colour in Autumn months. Spindle produces greenish white flowers in Late spring, early Summer and after pollination these flowers develop into vibrant pink fruits in Autumn.
How to Plant Flowering Hedges
We recommend planting a flowering hedgerow at a rate of 4 plants per metre, so 9 inches apart in a Single Row or 6 plants per metre in a Staggered Double Row, so 18 inches apart with 9 inches between the 2 rows. Flowering hedge plants are available as bare root plants from November through to March or April depending on the weather and temperatures. This is called the bare root season, when plants are dormant. We recommend planting during these months.
Here are some important steps to take before and during planting to ensure success.
- First prepare, the area, make sure the area is not overgrown. Cut away overgrown grass and weeds. It is also important to keep the area clean after planting. Weeds are competition for water and nutrients.
- Mark out where the plants are going, 4 or 6 per metre in the case of a flowering hedge mix. Also assign the pattern or mix you are planting. This is completely personal choice and there is no hard and fast rule.
- We recommend digging a trench about 6 inches deep and 9 inches wide in the case of a single row for these flowering hedge plants.
- We recommend digging a trench about 6 inches deep and 12 inches wide in the case of a double row.
- When you dig out the trench, till the soil really well. Break it up with the spade or shovel so that nice loose soil goes back in around the plants.
- Well tilled and broken up soil is important. This softer soil makes it easier for roots to move through and anchor in.
- Plant to the collar – on the bare root plants you will see the collar of the plants – the marks on the tree where it originally started to grow above the ground. Don’t plant too deep as to cover part of the stem, the stem is the channel from which the roots feed the plant. If the stem is covered in soil it will rot down and the nutrients won’t be able to travel up along the plant. If planted too shallow, the exposed roots will dry out and die.
- Back fill in with the well tilled and broken up soil. Walk the plants in. You want them secured in the ground so that they don’t blow around and yet not too compact that rain and moisture can’t get down into the roots.
- Keep them walked in – when planting in Winter months, the weather is more stormy and windy meaning plants can be blown around and become dislodged. It is important to keep hedging plants walked in after planting to ensure they become anchored in the ground.
- Hedging plants don’t require stake and ties.
A good tip for flowering hedges and all hedges in general : after planting, a layer of bark mulch at the base of the plant can help keep in moisture and keep down weeds. It also looks and smells great and gives the hedge a lovely finish.
How to Care for your Flowering Hedges.
Annual care and maintenance of flowering hedges makes all the difference to the quality of the hedge. Here are a few ways you can look after your hedge to get it looking it’s best.
Keep the hedge clean from weeds and overgrown grass. Weeds and grass are competition for nutrients in the ground.
Almost All the plants listed in our Flowering hedge can be pruned back in the first year to encourage bushiness and growth. It is imperative though that if pruning back to 6 or 9 inches you NEED TO KEEP THE AREA AROUND THE HEDGE CLEAN. If not kept clean, grass and weeds will smother the hedging plants.
Pruning can be done after planting and will pay dividends in years to come. Once established, the hedge can be pruned annually between September and March. It is important to note though that hedges that are pruned on a three year cycle produce a heavier crop of berries than those pruned annually.
An annual feed of the flowering hedging plants is also advisable. We find that working chicken manure pellets in the soil at the base of the plants promotes growth. We recommend feed in early Summer as growth appears on the plants.
We have specially curated a Flowering Hedging Plants Pack to get you started on your planting journey and we highly recommend that after your hard work planting, you sit back and smell the roses in your flowering hedges.
You can find more information on pruning or planting hedges in our other blogs, on our social media channels or by contacting Cullen Nurseries via phone. Cullen Nurseries is family run is Co. Carlow and provide a range of trees and hedging plants for you to start planting and growing. Find a range of top quality plant varieties and other products on our site, ready for planting in your garden, farm or community project.