From the Desk of Ed Hume: Transplanting

November 15, 2010 at 9:20 AM Leave a comment

Fall and Winter is the best time for transplanting!

Do you have any trees or shrubs that are in the wrong spot or have outgrown their spot in the garden?  If you do, the next few months are the best time to move them.  Trees, shrubs, and perennials are in their Winter dormancy right now, so November, December, January, February, and the earliest part of March are the best times to transplant them.  During this period, you can transplant both evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs.

Since roses, vines, fruit trees, lilacs, hydrangeas, and all other deciduous plants have lost their leaves and are in Winter dormancy, they can be transplanted too!   Likewise, these are good months to select and add new trees and shrubs to the garden.  Fall and Winter planting/transplanting gives the plants a chance to establish a new root system before the Spring growing season begins in early Spring.

If you are transplanting, start by digging about half way between the trunk of the plant and the drip line (The drip line is the outer edge of the branches).  Dig all the way around the plant.  If it is a large plant you may need to make a ditch about 12 to 18 inches deep all the way around so the plant can be lifted out of the hole with soil attached to the roots.  Of course, with really large trees or shrubs, the easiest way to accomplish this is to use power equipment like a backhoe or front-loader.  You might want to check with a nearby rental agency to see what kind of equipment they have and recommend for such a transplanting project.

Before you dig the plant/tree that’s being transplanted, it’s a good idea to dig and prepare the new planting hole.  This is done so the newly dug plant roots are exposed to drying-air for the minimum amount of time.

Make the new planting hole larger than the rootball of the plant being moved, so there is enriched soil for the new roots to develop and become established. Adding some organic humus with the surrounding soil will help enrich the new planting soil.   Compost and processed manure are excellent sources of organic humus.  If you don’t have either you can purchase bagged compost or processed manure at most nurseries, garden centers, or places that sell garden products.  Well-rotted manure, peat moss, or coconut fibers are also excellent sources of organic humus.

Mix the newly prepared planting soil around the plant once it is set in its new planting hole.  Firm thoroughly to help hold the newly planted tree or shrub in an upright position.  If it seems a little unsteady, you may need to provide staking support for the newly planted tree or shrub.  Of course, staking support for large trees and shrubs is a good idea anyhow, as it helps protect the plant from wind whipping during strong Winter windstorms.

If the plant is fairly large, you are apt to need help or you might want to even consider having the job done by a professional.  If that’s the case, I can tell you from experience: get more than one estimate!

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Clip of the Week: Fall Pruning Ed’s Podcasts: Transplanting

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