As we all know, plants are living things that need water, light, and air to survive. Hence it's usually recommended you get the plants out of their packaging and into the ground/pot as soon as you can. Simply, the quicker you can do it, the better. However, we understand that it is not always as easy as that- especially when you're working with larger areas, or when the weather is very unpredictable (i.e., in winter!).
With that being said, we're happy to recommend some short-term measures that can ensure you give your plants the best care until you're ready to get them planted.
Pot Grown Plants
For pot grown plants, after you have removed their outer packaging, you can leave the plants in their pots for days or weeks until you're ready to plant- that's the beauty of potted plants. You just have to make sure you keep them well-watered, sheltered, and they get enough sun to maximise their potential.
Bare Root Plants
Bare root plants must be planted within a few days upon delivery. You cannot leave them any longer than this, as the roots are rather fragile and need to be given protection and nutrients as soon as possible.
With that being said, should the plants need to wait a couple of days, you must ensure you remove the plants from their box/pallet, and place the roots in a bucket of water for a couple of hours to dampen them. Once you've done this, put the bare roots into plastic bags and store in a dry, cool place for up to two days- i.e., in a garage or shed.
Though it isn't recommended, you can protect your plants if they can't be planted within a few days. This method is known as heeling. It involved digging a big hole (in a free area of the garden), that's big enough to hold the entire root system, and then placing your bare roots in at a 45-degree angle, and gently filling and firming the soil around them. Though the plants will be happy like this for up to a few weeks, they'll always be much happier in their permanent space- plus, it would mean much less work for yourself!
Root Ball Plants
Root balls will usually come with a hessian sack, or some sort of bio-degradable material, surrounding their root mass. This wrapping does not need to be removed, and can stay on when planted.
If you're not able to plant your root balls straight away, remove them from their boxes or pallets and store in a cool, dry place- ensuring you keep the root balls well-watered and away from any harsh, cold weather (i.e., frost/snow). However, as much as this is possible, we highly recommend planting your root ball plants as soon as you can for the very best chance at success!