Best Time to Transplant Plants/Trees

Why would you want to transplant a plant or tree?  Well, perhaps it's been planted in a space that it will soon outgrow, or it could be because you've planted too many rose bushes or shrubs last year and they are crowding each other, or even that you've had some construction changes to your home....

For whatever reason you are considering digging and moving a plant from one spot to another in the landscape, Late Fall/Winter is the best time to accomplish this job.  This is because there is the least amount of growth during this period.  When you dig up a plant you will be cutting off most of the feeder roots in the process.  By doing it the late fall or winter, after dormancy has set in, you give the longest period of time possible for the plant to regenerate new feeder root that they will need to survive the summer heat


What is Transplant Shock:

Transplant shock is the plants way of reacting to being moved.  It is generally caused by damage to the roots during the transplant.  The most important roots (those that actually “do the work”) are located the farthest away from the plant.  These tiny roots are covered by even tinier hairs which absorb most of the water, which is eventually carried to the top-growth of the plant.  Unfortunately - this is where the damage is mostly done, whether it's from cutting them or allowing them to dry out.  Plus these “tiny hair-like" roots do not like exposure to air.  Beyond such major effects on the roots, plants can also sense the smallest of  changes like wind, sun light and temperature, so it may take time to adjust to the new environment...

Transplant shock has many ways of appearing.  It can cause strange development of leaves and stems.  Leaves can produce and then quickly start browning along the edges or at the tips.  Transplant shock can also mimic other troubles like insect damage or disease.

Helpful hints to transplanting your garden:

1.) Take space and light requirements into consideration when choosing where you want to move the tree/plant.

2.) Dig a hole twice as wide and just as deep as the rootball of the plant you are moving.

3.) Prepare the soil.  Clay soil can be one of the biggest challenges.... Things can drown.  If you don’t already have a flower bed prepared, and are digging up untilled soil, it is a good idea to mix in some compost or a bag of garden soil in and around the surface.  You don’t want a big wide hole that can hold water until the plant drowns. 

3.) Gently dig up your plant, while trying to get as much of the root ball as possible.

4.) Lift the plant gently and move it to the new hole, burying the roots and filling the new hole with native soil (mixed with compost/bag of garden soil if applicable).

5.) Apply a few inches of mulch over the root area, but not up against the stem or trunk of the plant

6.)  Water with care: When finished, thoroughly water the plant to help recover and get established in its new surroundings. Then follow the regular, recommended care for your variety of plant/tree, even consider applying a root stimulator.

7.) Tip: You can lessen the damage from transplanting by cutting a plant back to balance the top with the remaining roots. 

Remember: Don't attempt to move a plant/tree too large by yourself, and instead call a professional such as Living Expression Landscapes (281-681-8715) to do it for you.