Moving Garden Plants
Whether you are an active or occasional gardener sooner or latter you will probably find yourself in need of moving garden plants. Traditionally the practice has been to move plants during the late fall and into the winter months, but if proper techniques are used most plants can be safely moved anytime of the year.
Rules For Moving Garden Plants During The Growing Season
When preparing to move smaller plants less than 3 feet in height is is good to remove 1/3 of the plants top growth when dealing with woody ornamentals such as shrubs and bushes. When dealing with herbaceous plants such as perennial flowers or plants that die back to the ground each year pruning back is not essential. Carefully dig around the plant leaving a root ball as large as the diameter of the plants you are moving. Take the whole plant to the new location and place it in the ground firming the soil around it, the more root you can preserve the better your transplant will take.
If you are moving garden plants that are larger plants of maybe 3 feet to 6 feet the procedure is similar but it takes longer due to an added step. When you dig around the plant dig down about 1 1/2 feet and then let the plant stay there for 10 to 14 days before moving to the new site. This will give the plant a chance to start producing new roots where the old roots were cut off and giving you a better chance of the plant surviving the move.
Moving Larger Garden Plants And Trees
When moving garden plants or trees which are large the process is a good bit different. The first process is to try and remove about 1/3 of the top growth on larger branches do not remove the branch from the trunk just cut it back. Next dig down along the drip line half way around the plant, be sure to dig deep enough to get through the roots. At this point you will want to wait two weeks or so before repeating the procedure on the other half of the plant.
After another two weeks have passed you will want to lift the plant out of the hole and wrap the root ball with burlap to prevent the soil from falling away from the root ball and damaging the roots. Move the plant to the new location and be sure the new hole is 1 1/2 times wider than the root ball. The depth of the new hole should allow the plant to sit 3/4″ to 1″ above the surrounding soil to avoid smothering the existing roots. As you are back filing the hole you may add some compost as a soil amendments to help make the soil .easier for new roots to grow into.
Whether you are moving garden plants that are small or larger care should be taken to keep them well watered the first year. These plants have lost part of their root systems so they can not reach out past the drip line to get water as efficiently as plants or trees that are established. During the 2nd year keep an eye on them as well, and provide supplemental watering if it has not rained in more than a week..
Provided you have followed these practices your plant should adapt well and flourish in the new location. One last thing if you are trying to move a tree that is more than 3 1/2 ” to 4″ in diameter you will need to hire a landscaper with specialized equipment as the weight of the tree is something that can not be lifted by hand.
This article by Glenn Bronner previously appeared in Glenns Garden Gardening Blog Glenn is a professional grounds keeper with over 40 years of experience in gardening and the horticulture industry shares gardening tips and knowledge on his gardening blogs.