Moving Large/Old Camellias

holly_bc(Zone 7B VanIsle)July 19, 2009

I have two Camellias, planted side by side to form one large bush. I would guess they are about 20+ years old - maybe almost 30 years - and are about 10' tall.

I am putting on an addition and these Camellias need to be moved. I know they are shallow rooted much like Rhods.

It's high 70's or more each day here and there is no indication of that changing any time soon while the moving has to happen pronto.

I have a location I could move them to. I'd like to trim them down but wonder if this is the best time to do so?? Should I trim before moving or after?

How deep a hole should I prep for them and what would you suggest for the infill soil?

Alternatively could I burlap the root ball and keep it well soaked for 3-4 weeks? Perhaps I could then plant them around the new foundation area?

They are presently planted in a well protected NE corner. The 'new location(s)' would not be as well protected though still reasonably so. Should this be a concern to me?

Please share your thoughts/knowledge with me as I really hate to lose old and resilient plants.

Thanks so much,


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This will be an iffy situation,but if you have no choice but to move these plants now,the best thing to do would be to cut them back heavily to reduce the expiration through the leaves,dig the largest root ball possible and do not replant too deeply and use only the soil that you dug out of the hole with no amendments.Keep well watered,do not let them dry out.Shade them with something if possible.Perhaps you could have a landscape company dig the plant for you with one of the machines that excavates a large root ball .

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 1:49PM
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holly_bc(Zone 7B VanIsle)

Thanks Johnnie Grower.
I will reduce them considerably in both heigth and width. I put the soaker hose on them last night - all night long. They will be dug by the excavator. How deep would you think we need to go down to get a sizable root ball? I appreciate your help. I really don't want to lose them.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 6:06PM
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Holly, I am not sure of the depth required on your particular plants. It would depend on the size of those plants. You would certainly want to get the majority of the roots.Some explority excavation just outside the limits of the limb width should give some idea as to where the roots reach. If your trees have a tap root , that would be in the center of the plant and would reach deeper than the more shallow feeder roots.Also, if the excavator is one of the cone shaped ones,the size of the excavator would control and because of it's cone shape , it would accomodate the greater depth of a tap root in the center.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 12:18PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

It's not recommended that the top of woody plants be cut to reduce transpiration. It is now known that pruning prior to transplanting dramatically reduces a plant's ability to develop new roots quickly. Root development is the key to any transplant success. Not only does top pruning hinder the manufacture of carbohydrates, but also essential hormones the plant needs to direct growth to the roots (and not the shoots).

Because a plant's immediate response to top pruning is shoot development (not root growth), a tree or shrub is likely to use even more water if pruned prior to transplanting!

The minimum size of the root ball really ought to be figured by taking the size of the plant in mind. We measure, for example, the DIAMETER of the trunk as an important number. You will never, ever get most of the roots, so don't even try. Even professionally grown, field-dug trees are harvested leaving the vast majority of the root system behind.

The roots should be sharply cut and not mangled, yanked, and smashed. With a healthy canopy, new roots will begin to regenerate rapidly and aggressively. By 'excavator', I fear that you mean a backhoe with a shovel attachment. This can cause just the kind of injury I'm referring to. Hopefully, they have a tree spade attachment in their bag-0-tricks. ;-)

After planting, you may need to prune broken branches. Tend to that task by careful thinning cuts, rather than topping.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pruning myth

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 12:05PM
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