Winter Transplanting

colebug(z8)December 7, 2006

Can I transplant plants during winter (December, January) or should I wait until spring (March, April)?

I live in Olympia and the soil is well draining.

The plants in question are mountain laurels, barberries, an escallonia, Oregon grapes, mock oranges and a ninebark. All but the ninebark are two years old or less. I need to move them because they are not thriving (mountain laurels and Oregon grapes) or I planted them in the wrong space. - The joys of a new gardener.

Thanks for the help.

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Ratherbgardening(PNW 7 or 8)

You can do it now unless you have a lot of clay. Wet clay soil won't break up well and you'll end up with a bunch of clods.
By transplanting now, they'll have plenty of moisture to get them settled in before next summer, which means less fussing over them at that time.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 9:54PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Transplanting hardy plants all winter is traditional here but most of the rooting out each year is actually in fall. Re-establishment of most subjects having their roots cut now probably minimal. Waiting until end of winter would also have advantage of avoiding additional cold spells that might occur.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 11:44PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

Don't you think it better to wait until spring to do these things? I always find that plants put their new roots into warmish soil quickly but in the wintertime, they languish and could be damaged by bad weather. Mind you, in the spring there is so much to do and so little time.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 1:00AM
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boxofrox(z8 PNW)

I would think the mountain laurels at least would be fine since they are so young especially if they are the smaller ones. I recently moved a Little Linda, Elf, Tinkerbell, Minuet, and Carousel and the rootballs were so small that I hardly had to disturb them to transplant.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 2:38PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

All will likely tolerate the timing, we are just hashing over variables here. If the rest of the winter is going to be uneventful there could be a definite case for moving them right away. As the winter drags on the soil will become colder and wetter, the nutrient reserves in the plants smaller. Perhaps what comparatively little rooting out they might do during the winter will be greater if they are moved now.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 11:03PM
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Due to time and schedule constraints, I do the bulk of my personal gardening in the winter months, including transplanting, dividing and new plantings. Other than trying to avoid the worst of the weather (primarily because I am a wuss when it comes to cold and wet) and keeping out of the garden when soil is excessively wet, I have not found it poses any more problems than planting at any other time of year and perhaps quite a bit less than attempting to do similar activities in midseason when plants will be unnecessarily stressed.

I once planted an entire mixed border - trees, shrubs, perennials, vines and bulbs - in late December, finishing just hours before the temperatures plummeted down into the low 20's for more than a week. Everything came through unscathed.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2006 at 11:01AM
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reg_pnw7(WA 7, sunset 4)

No need to wait. The only time you should not transplant stuff is when the soil is either frozen or waterlogged, or in the hottest part of summer. If you have well draining soil you probably have the typical glacial gravelly till soil widespread in Thurston County, which is rarely waterlogged even after 26" of rain.

Waiting for warmer weather may be worse than doing it now. If we get a heat wave before the plants have gotten their roots established then you could easily lose them, and it could take months before they're really established.

Transplanting now will give you a chance to get a good look at the roots and see what the problem might be, if there is one. Our soil does tend to be really lean, and even though kalmias like lean soil and mahonias are native here if there's little root growth you might need to add organic matter to their new homes.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2006 at 5:51PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

By mulching.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2006 at 8:29PM
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Thank you for all the responses. I am glad that it shouldn't be a problem to start move the plants around. I spent this fall thinking about what I wanted to move because I was too pregnant to do the work easily. Now that I am no longer pregnant, I am rather anxious to do something other than dig dandelions out of my yard (my main occupation this summer/fall) and think about gardening.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 7:00PM
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I realize this is an old thread but I was so happy to find this information. My gut has always told me that it was fine to move stuff during the winter in zone 8 but I really needed someone to say "yes, I did it and things were ok!"

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 2:44PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

At this point it's getting to be late for moving some things, depending on what they are. Cliff Mass says spring starts in February in this area, I'm looking out the office window at shrubs in bloom.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 4:28PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I move shrubs, trees and groundcovers almost all year long. The heat of the summer and when the ground is frozen are the two exceptions. If you wait for the perfect time, it probably won't get done. Same with pruning.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 1:51PM
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