moving trillium

debstuart1(z4NH)May 15, 2008

I have a border which is along a cool stone wall - north facing with some sun and wildflowers such as bloodroot, sweet woodruff have done well here along with things like astilbes and heucheras, etc. In this border there are three kinds of trillium and while they don't spread, they come back each year and seem healthy.

On a couple of other places on my property I have trilliums which I did not plant and they are in shade but pretty poor and dry soil. I think in one place - a leafy but quite dry understory area - the trillium colony (burgundy red ones)is actually shrinking. This year there are seven plants, far fewer than the last couple of years. A large tree fell right in this area a year ago and they haven't done as well since.

My question is - can and should I dig at least a couple of these and bring them into the border where they might have more moist and slightly richer soil?

As for the other two lone specimens ( one white, one small pale pink) - they are in pretty barren soil surrounded simply by pine needles. I'm thinking that perhaps they might also be moved to a more hospitible environment. Or perhaps I should make changes to the soil around them right where they are as they are in a nice spot visually. (The red ones are down a bank and not visible)

I would appreciate ideas on this - including, if it is wise to move them, should it be done just as they are finished flowering and before they go dormant?

thanks for all advice


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ontheteam(5a-6 (S.Eastern, MA))

I am no expert but: I'd move them.I'd try and wait till they are dormant IE the fall. Since the burgundy ones are declining you don't have anything to loose!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 5:41AM
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I would move them in late spring as they are fading. That way you know where they are. I also am planning to move a few of mine because they are in decline (there were six of them last year, only 3 came up this year).

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 6:51AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

I would either move them now or as they fade. I too am no expert, but when I wait for a better time, or the best time to move something, I often find things have gone dormant, and I can no longer find them, or I don't have the time to do it.

One them I have found when digging them from 'naturally' planted settings (my woods) is that they really are much easier to dig when the soil is really, really wet. I've also learned some are a lot deeper than others.

I may be mistaken, but I think I have had some native things not appear one season, yet come back the next season...or so it seemed. I attributed it to possibly suffering from drought conditions from the previous year.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 8:18AM
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The loss of a large tree means that light conditions have changed in the area where your trilliums are disappearing. It may be that you now have too much sunlight and heat for trilliums to thrive. As long as you are careful to lift the entire root system of individual plants, you can move them at any time. Just water them in thoroughly after the move. It's always a good idea to include humus in the planting hole. That will improve moisture retention and improve soil quality.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 10:41AM
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ladyslppr(z6 PA)

I would move them now if you can dig a nice ball of soil with them. If you have to work them out from in between roots or rocks, I might wait until the fall to move them when they are dormant. Moving them now has the advantage of giving them the rest of their growing season to get stronger for next year. If they are in a poor spot they might not be storing much energy.

I don't know how you could change the soil surrounding the other trilliums. You could add humus to the surface, but that would take some time to have much effect. If moisture is insufficient in the current location, there is not much you can do about it without major work that would disturb the trilliums. I think if you were really determined to change the moisture conditions, you could think about removing trees that demand a lot of water and have shallow roots, and amend the soil with lots of humus to make it retain water better. Neither of these changes could be made without disturbing the trilliums.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 12:08PM
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