The magic window for transplanting shrubs

organic_gardenhag(7)November 18, 2013

I have several shrubs that need to be moved around. you know, its in the wrong place, etc. I just need to do some musical shrub planting. a yaupon holly,a chesapeake holly, a zhuzhou loropetalum, a couple of blueberries, I think thats all, none are too big, just a few years old. I feel this should be a good time for all of them, please tell me if you feel the window is still open, or is into December and January still good? there have been those few nice days here and there lately for at least trying to catch up on the never ending to do list outside. just gotta catch up, so I can just look forward to this coming garden season.
And what might anyone else be doing out there right now? While we are at it, what else is it a good time to do. just have a few more days before getting ready to leave for an extended Thanksgiving.

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I would do it from now to end of december

I am currently transplanting some monkey grass and pulling crab grass from my bermuda lawn.Crabgrass is dormant and a little easier to pull.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 11:26PM
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got two of them moved, have two more. thought I should give them something for root growth, it is pretty brutal getting them out of the solid clay soil, needed a pick axe. what would stimulate roots, with out new growth?

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 9:29AM
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I move plants/bushes around my yard like people re-arrange furniture, sometimes it takes a couple of moves to get things in the right place.

From now thru January is fine for transplanting. Just remember the general rule that you typically loose a 3rd to a 4th of the plant rootball during transplanting, so you cut back the above ground portion of the tree/shrub an equal amount.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 6:38PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

You can safely transplant most woody plants anytime up through early spring. As long as the ground is not frozen at root level (which should be almost never in your area), there is no reason you couldn't do it anytime up until that time. It's best not to transplant after the weather starts warming up significantly (late spring, early summer, early all before dormancy) because of the extra stress.

DO NOT cut top-growth back to compensate for root loss! Some people, long ago before research on the topic had been conducted, used to believe that worked well. What it actually does is slow establishment by reducing potential to make food, reducing stored energy that could be used to grow roots, and redirect energy away from root growth to enable recovery from the pruning. Just as cutting off your right arm is not beneficial if you loose your left arm, pruning top-growth to balance the root-shoot ratio is not beneficial. There may be times that pruning is necessary for access to dig the rootball and replant, but the shrub would only have to overcome a further obstacle and would survive in spite of the pruning, not because of it.

Most of the root stimulant products that you'll see (if that is what you were asking about) are snake-oil. Professional propagators generally have found them to be useless. Just as every snake-oil has it's advocates, you may find some people that swear by just about any oddball concoction you find. Personally, I'd save my money. If you were asking about amendments, your plants are better off without them. Amendments are almost never beneficial, but frequently impede good drainage (especially in clay) and prevent good root system formation.

I believe you will find the information in the link below helpful.

Here is a link that might be useful: Planting a Tree or Shrub

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 11:39PM
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Based on my experience of transplanting many hundreds of plants over the last 30 years, I respectfully disagree with Brandon, the few transplants that were not successful were the ones where I did not cut back the top growth. I guess there are differing opinions on about everything, but I am just passing on what has worked for me.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 6:38AM
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both methods make sense, maybe it depends on what plants we are talking about, if its dormant etc, because I do know the plants still make roots while not producing leaves, etc. the two evergreens, I will go ahead and prune at the appropriate time, the blueberry I moved last winter did fine, they produce on the previous years growth, and I want my berries. I just made sure I added the same amendments I had to the first ones. I do believe I will reduce the size of the loropetalum and prune the ones around it, all for a uniform size. I do appreciate the response, there is so much do, just keeping up and revamping. It does help and may give me more to do, knowing what others are also doing during the winter, to gett a jump on springtime. I am also pulling out the bermuda that a'ways finds its way into my large mixed border. plan to still get mulch, etc. but have to take some time off for Thanksgiving with family. thanks

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 4:10PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

There is equal scientific support for chopping off your right arm to compensate for loosing your left one. It's not just my opinion; it's a very well studied and documented fact (since at least the mid to late 70's when Whitcomb did his studies on this).

The Myth of Top-Pruning Transplanted Material by Linda Chalker-Scott

Top 10 Tree Myths by the Morton Arboretum

Dispelling Common Horticultural Myths by the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension

Tips for Planting Trees and Shrubs by the US Department of Agriculture

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 2:03PM
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Let me add a question to the discussion. I have two Encore azaleas that were planted 2 1/2 years ago - 3 gallon plants. I want to move them and wonder where to dig around them, i.e., how far out should I dig? May have to recruit someone to help move them if I should get a big root ball, but that's doable.


    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 3:48PM
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Rosie: Most of the roots of azalea plants grow within a few inches of the surface making azaleas pretty easy to transplant. I would recommend using a spade fork when transplanting because you are less likely to sever the roots when trying to get under the rootball. I would dig 10 to 12 inches out and the plants should pop out pretty quickly, Chris.

Here is a link that might be useful: Spade fork

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 5:10PM
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Chris, very much appreciate the suggestion of using a spading fork. Makes a lot of sense. I've always had one, but this year found myself using it for lots of tasks, all of which seemed easier. Lordy, I'm so old. Wish I'd learned this 40 or 50 years ago.

Smiling, Rosie

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 5:39PM
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