Tips on Transplanting

For best results when transplanting landscape plants adhere to the following rules. The ideal time to transplant any landscape plant is when they are sleeping, or during their dormancy period. The dormancy period typically starts with the first hard freeze in the fall and continues until the plants start to show signs of new growth in the spring. All plants can be transplanted at just about anytime during this period as long is the ground is not frozen.

Transplanting a dug treeTransplanting a dug tree

Spring transplanting can be done up until the deciduous plants start to develop leaves. A deciduous plant is any plant that is not evergreen. If it loses it's leaves during the winter, it is deciduous. Once a deciduous plant has produced leaves in the spring it can not be safely transplanted until late fall.

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Evergreens should also be transplanted when they are dormant. Transplanting can continue in the spring until the plants start to show signs of new growth. Once the new growth appears evergreens should not be transplanted until that new growth hardens off, which could take up to eight weeks. Once the new growth has hardened off, some evergreens can be safely transplanted. However, I do not recommend it. Transplanting during hot weather is risky business. Even if the plant survives it will be some time before normal growing will continue. To be safe, wait until late fall.

Keep in mind that any plant that does not defoliate during the winter, is an evergreen. Many people do not consider Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Japonicas, and Euonymus varieties as evergreens, but they are. They are broadleaf evergreens. Of course there are also deciduous Euonymus and Azaleas. Burning Bush is a deciduous Euonymus.

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Don't misunderstand the difference between planting and transplanting. You can plant at any time of the year, especially if you have the plant sitting on top of the ground. Don't wait, plant it right away. The danger in transplanting is the severing of the roots while the plant is actively growing.

If you have a plant that was grown in a container, you are not disturbing the roots when you remove it from the container, therefore it is safe to plant a container plant at any time. A field grown plant on the other hand is a different story. When a field grown plant is balled in burlap a substantial amount of the roots are severed. If this is done while the plant is actively growing it will go into shock, and likely die.

If you have a balled in burlap plant that was dug before if started actively growing, it can be planted at any time, and should be planted as soon as possible. However, plants can be kept in a ball if cared for properly.

Planting a balled in burlap treePlanting a balled in burlap tree

When digging a plant to transplant it make sure you get enough roots. The rule of thumb is for every 1" of trunk caliper you should have 12" of root ball. The caliper of a tree is the diameter of the trunk approximately 6" off the ground.

Digging a tree to transplantDigging a tree to transplant

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