Is fall transplanting relatively safe?

pizzuti(5A)October 3, 2011

Some clematis that used to thrive are being increasingly shaded, year after year, by a nearby growing honeylocust tree, and are naturally smaller each year. They still reach the top of the 6' fence but without the bulky overhang they once had, and have only 20 or so flowers each year. I believe I have a few years before they stop blooming completely.

I'd like to move them to a new spot - but as safely as possible with the least chance of loss. Since they've been in the same spot for so long, they have basically divided and have some stems coming up 8 inches from other stems, so I would like to divide the plants and move half, so if it doesn't take in the new location I have another shot when moving the other portion. Also, by moving half I have another year to enjoy the established plant while the moved portion grows in the new location.

I've read that the best time to move clematis is in the early spring. Can I also do it in fall?

I don't know the varieties, but as far as I know they are very generic types that you find most commonly; nothing fancy or rare. One has a plain dark purple flower and the other is the same but violet.

I have searched extensively online for transplanting/propagation tips and haven't been entirely satisfied with the specificity and consistency of the advice, and I have a couple concerns.

1) I want to move them while disturbing the surrounding garden as little as possible. How much do I have to dig? Especially considering that I can't dig into/under the fence so will lose some roots there.

2) How safe is it to move them in the fall so I can see if it worked and get another shot in the spring or next year?

3) Can re-planting broken roots be a way of propagating them? Do root cuttings work?

4) If I move half the plant, how much of a risk does it pose to the remaining half? I figure they must be somewhat tough since they've lived so long, but I don't know how tough they are when it comes a move.

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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I don't know how soon you have hard frost in your much colder zone than me but here in the PNW fall is better than spring to move or plant almost anything.

It really depends on whether winter cold or summer heat is the hardest on them.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 10:11PM
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pizzuti(5A)

I have no idea if winter is tough on them because they are dormant during the winter, so I don't have visible signs of stress like wilting...is cold an issue that gets them - or are they perfectly fine with being frozen and is it winter dryness that affects them most? Either way I suppose I could mulch them up deep.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 5:21AM
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Ament(5a SD)

Fall, when things go dormant is the best time to move things about. You're better off doing your moving when things go dormant Pizzuti. I am going to be doing the same with my peony soon. I have to quarter it, it's gotten to be a beast! lol

~Tina

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 8:54AM
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opheliathornvt zone 5

I move plants both spring and fall, with good results. One thing I read once and follow, is to try to get everything moved before the last leaves fall off the trees.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 10:14AM
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pizzuti(5A)

I read that it was best to do it after its own leaves completely drop because then the carbohydrates have moved down into the roots. Is that not accurate? Better do it a couple weeks earlier so it has some time for the roots to grow a little bit?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 2:19AM
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opheliathornvt zone 5

I assume it's to give it time for the roots to grow a little, but your theory also makes sense. Maybe I'll google a little and see what information is out there.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 9:32AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

In your cold zone I'd do it as soon as possible. You want the roots to be able to grow and settle in before hard frost.

Do not wait for the leaves to drop. Do it now while the soil still has some warmth.

Then cut it back hard after the leaves drop so it won't put out any new growth that would be frozen.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 10:27AM
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