To transplant, or not to transplant... that is my question

peachymomo(Ca 8)July 25, 2014

In a few months a year will have passed since I planted the shrubs by my new dry creek, most of them are growing splendidly but I'm contemplating transplanting a few. My main concern is that one of the Sambucus mexicana plants has grown easily 2-4 times as much as the other three, leading me to think that the stunted ones are getting too much shade. The slow growers are all planted where I really wanted some fast privacy, so I'd rather not wait another year to see if they'll take off.

It's a difficult area to plant because it's shaded by my neighbors' redwood trees, so it gets very dense shade most of the time. There is a bit of morning or late afternoon sun depending on the season, one side gets more in the winter and the other in the summer.

I know that there's probably nothing that will grow fast in the shade, but is there anything that will grow well at all in these conditions? Preferably something that will grow 12-20' tall and provide good screening? Or should I just wait another year and see if the elderberries will do better once they gain some more height and can reach a little more sun?

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There are several understory shrubs that will grow in your conditions. Unfortunately they are not dense enough to make a good screen. Al

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 6:04PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Toyon? It makes a good screen here. They are not fast, but they are good.

There are the elderberries growing here in undeveloped spots in the hills in deep shade of oaks, and they are not the happiest of elderberries.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 11:02AM
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peachymomo(Ca 8)

Thanks for the replies!

I don't really need a dense screen, it's an indirect and partially obstructed view of a spot in the neighbors' yard that isn't much used. I just want something to fill the gaps and soften the transition from fence to yard. After looking at what grows in redwood forests I'm thinking that rhododendron macrophyllum might be my only choice, since it gets tall with time. The frustrating thing is that the neighbors' property is a good 5' above us so that all the screening plants have to get tall before they'll do any good.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 11:27AM
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I think it is probably an advantage that the screening needed is up a little higher, Cestrum elegans will grow up to about 10 feet, and does well in shade, blooms year around, attracts hummers. Kerria japonica would fill in nicely in time with pretty yellow flowers. Visit local botanical gardens and look at understory plants that are doing well. Al

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 5:32PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

First, are you watering and fertilizing the existing Sambucus sufficiently to encourage good growth? Redwoods can siphon off a lot of water if you don't compensate. I'd think you would want something relatively drought tolerant as well as shade tolerant, and Cestrum of any sort isn't water thrifty. Toyon would work, but it is slow to get going. I'd suggest Pittosporum tobira, Eleagnus pungens varieties, Arbutus unedo, Garrya elliptica, Prunus illicifolia, Rhamnus californica, Myrtus communis, might be some useful alternatives.

If you don't mind potential self sowing issues, things like Cotoneaster lactea would probably work.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 1:22PM
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peachymomo(Ca 8)

I do have some Garrya elliptica and Rhamnus alaternus 'John Edwards' that I was thinking of moving. Maybe I'll just shift things that I have already and see if I like the new arrangement better.

But for the time being I'll give some more water and a dose of fertilizer to the Sambucus to see if it makes a difference. I feel like the shade is more of a problem because the growth they have is very lateral, stretching for the sun that shines a bit farther away from the trees.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 4:16PM
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