Confusion about when to transplant trees/shrubs

squirrellypete(z7b AL)November 1, 2006

I have always been a little unclear about this so I could use your opinions. I have heard two different things in regards to transplanting trees/shrubs:

1. Best time to transplant is in the fall to give their roots time to establish before freeze.

2. Best time to transplant is in winter when the plant is completely dormant and the foliage is gone.

Which is true here in the southeast? Or does it depend on the kind of tree/shrub such as deciduous versus evergreen? I have several things that could stand to be transplanted so is now the best time or should I wait?

Thanks for any advice! Sincerely, Squirrellypete

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I wonder if the confusion stems from the two situations: a) you are planting a nursery grown plant that is either in a pot or B&B; or b) you are transplanting a plant from where it is in the ground to somewhere else.

For a), I would definitely say plant in the fall to give the roots time to grow. For b), I'd say you could do either but I'm not sure what the offical answer is for "best time".

    Bookmark   November 1, 2006 at 7:02PM
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Since you say "transplant" I am going to assume you don't mean planting trees and shrubs from the nursery that come in pots. I would amend your line " Best time to transplant is in the fall to give their roots time to establish before freeze." to say " Best time to transplant is in the fall to give their roots time to establish before spring. Around here there is a sort of blur between fall and winter: we have some cold days in fall and some warm days in winter. Generally speaking, deciduous trees and shrubs should have dropped their leaves before being transplanted, no matter if it is fall or winter. I would further suggest that no matter when you decide to transplant that you go ahead now and prepare the new site by digging and turning the soil and adding amendments if you like but no fertilizer. I don't fertilize newly planted plants till they have had time to be established - usually about 2 years. But do water.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2006 at 9:56PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Freezing temperatures won't hinder the new roots from growing, though they'll grow slower. Woody plants aren't harmed by the onset of winter weather, and remember....the soil temperatures are warmer than the air temperatures in the winter (and cooler in the summer). Transplant ANYTIME from now until the hot weather comes once again.

The most important thing is that you follow accepted transplanting procedures from beginning to end, giving your plants the best shot at success. You know, sharp tools, dig wide rather than deep, wide planting basin, no amendments in the hole or back-fill, proper planting depth, mulching, watering, no pruning, no fertilizing. ;-)

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 12:20PM
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Eddie1 is quite right about deciduous plants. Wait until they drop their leaves.

As for evergreens, fall is good if they're fully cold-hardy, spring if they're marginal.

Eddie1 gave good advice also regarding preparation and fertilization schedules.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2006 at 7:58PM
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squirrellypete(z7b AL)

Thanks everyone for the great info. That definitely cleared up some of my confusion. And I will start getting their new locations ready while I'm waiting for the leaves to drop.

Sincerely, Squirrellypete

    Bookmark   November 6, 2006 at 9:56AM
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