I have trillium seedlings coming up in my gravel driveway. I can think of much better places for them. How deep do they go? Thank you.
When the leaves turn yellow, dig up the little bulbs. Since they are seedlings, they should only be an inch or so deep. If you try to dig them now, you will lose most of them.
I usually transplant them this time of year and I can't say I lose too many. I have never tried it when the leaves are yellow and as long as you don't forget or trample the plant in the meantime, that probably would work well, too. If the leaf is gone, though, the tiny bulb would be hard to find and handle, I would think.
Are they first year seedlings with strap-shaped leaves? Second year with a single heart-shaped leaf? Or third year with the three-part leaf like the mature plants? First year seedlings are not deep (1" is right), but the three year olds have much deeper roots. Prying them out of gravel could be a lot harder than the soft soil mine grow in.
In any event, I have not found trillium seedlings difficult. They are actually quite sturdy and transplant easily. The younger they are, the earlier they go dormant, so the one year olds have sometimes disappeared by early July and the two and three year olds shortly after.
I mostly have the first and second year seedlings. I'll be sure to get them out before they get too hard to get out. You can't have too many trilliums in the garden. Thank you.
I have older trilliums that have been overtaken by salal so they are buried in the taller salal and hard to see. How deep would I have to go to get their bulb?
First, just to be clear, trilliums are rhizomes, but the baby rhizomes of the seedlings resemble tiny bulbs. I didn't mean to start a rumor there.
The roots of mature plants aren't exceptionally deep. They are maybe 6-8" deep or about what you'd expect most perennials of that size to be. I haven't transplanted nearly as many mature plants as I have seedlings (which is hundreds), but I have also found them to be pretty sturdy, tolerant plants. I usually do it just after they finish blooming and they do fine with lots of water. It takes them a few years to settle in and get established, but they should be all right. I would think it would be a very low-risk, high-reward project to get your trilliums out where you can see them.
They are beautiful plants and I agree 100% that you can't have too many.
I bought a couple trillium at Aboretum Society plant sale last year, and they came up and bloomed this year. I'm very excited because I've always admired them when I go camping on the peninsula, but could never get them to make the trip home from the woods to my garden successfully. In addition, my violets (in the same bed) really started blooming this year, so it's a very happy bed at the moment.
Because Trilliums are a protected species here in BC, they have a reputation of being extremely difficult to transplant. However, I have had great success in moving mature trilliums between various places within our yard and from other private properties on which the trilliums were going to be destroyed by development (not sure if that rescuing is strictly legal but it sure seems to fit the spirit of the protection act!)
I agree with karchita that the best time to move is just after blooming. I dig quite deeply, trying for 10 inches or more (and it is sometimes difficult to go deeply enough b/c of roots or rocks), use lots of leaf mould compost in the new hole and water well.
I find that the clumps of trilliums can become quite large and spectacular after a number of years if they like the conditions. I use regular additions of leaf mould compost late in the spring or early summer after seedlings have become large enough to avoid smothering them (I use maple b/c we have observed the best bunches in the wild growing in maple groves)and am careful to keep competitors at bay (being very careful not taking out the tiny trillium seedlings).
The clumps which have failed to thrive have been in places that are too dry and are out of reach of my occasional summer watering. Or if the site is too dark and shady. They don't need a lot of sun and seem to love the dappled shade of deciduous trees best. But we have some parts of our yard that are constantly shaded by low overhanding evergreens and they don't thrive as well there.
I agree, they are one of the great delights of mid spring!!
I have often thought that the reason trilliums have the reputation for being difficult to transplant is because people who take them from wild places weren't digging in nice, soft garden soil and don't get the whole root ball. Another reason may be that people don't realize that they go dormant before fall and after being transplanted they can go dormant as early as mid August. So people think they have died but they are just dormant. The seedlings disappear even earlier, like mid July.
I was lucky enough to buy a house with a huge patch of trillium which I have maintained and enlarged over the years. I also apparently have pollinators out and doing their thing early enough to get lots of seedlings, every year, all over the place. It really is an embarrassment of riches. I usually donate several flats a year to various plant sales.
Mine grow under a huge deciduous magnolia. I don't water them unless it's extremely dry in June. Most years I mulch them a bit with some compost before they emerge in early spring, but certainly not every year. By August they are definitely in decline and something chews on the leaves. I thought it was root weevils, but others have said it's slugs. In any event, they don't look so hot in late summer.
My plan, thanks for your collective advice, is to wait until the foliage yellows but hasn't disappeared to dig up the seedlings. That sounds like some time in July.
Interesting timing on this thread. As part of my move, my large patch of trillium 'Volcano' was dug up this week and transplanted to a safe place at a friend's garden. Although not the ideal time to do so - the plant was in full, magnificent bloom - it dug up easily with a large but not particularly deep rootball and seemed to make the transition well. Only time will tell if it survives without difficulty.
Sometimes we are forced to do these types of activities when it is not the best time for the plant. I'll keep you posted on how this plant fares - I'd really hate to lose it. It is a traffic stopper with dozens of very large, deep red flowers and attractive spotted foliage. And no longer commercially available.
I'm happy to report that both Trillium 'Volcano' plants are doing great after late April transplanting. Being top heavy as Trilliums are, they haven't been able to stand upright since the move but otherwise no wilt or dieback of foliage or flowers. The cool rainy weather helps. Pam, all the other plants from your garden are looking fabulous by the way, 'Green Cascade' is stunning!