You Can't Take It With You... Can You?

MiaOKCNovember 3, 2011

Hi Everyone,

Wondering about transplanting. We're in the process of looking for a new house after 10+ years in the same spot. Sad to think of going but need more space. There are several things that I'd like to take with us if/when we move, like peonies, perennial lantana, asparagus (first year! does the three year clock restart?), hostas, cannas, divisions of perennial ornamental grasses, etc. Any advice about possible transplanting in the middle of winter? I'm afraid after this freeze I won't be able to find exactly where the plants are when they die back. Maybe dig up now and keep in plastic pots in the garage until we move and spring comes? Mark with flags and wait until spring? Any ideas or advice? We won't be selling this house, it will be rented, so I could potentially come back and dig stuff up, but would not be optimal.


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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Mia,

I dug up lots of stuff and brought it with me when we moved here from Texas. We moved in February of what was a fairly warm and droughty winter. I waited until I had the soil here prepared for the plants, then dug up the plants, put them in pots or buckets or whatever I had, brought them up here and replanted them the same day. I watered them in well. Everything survived the move just fine, although some of those plants were devoured by the deer within a few months. (Live and learn. That was my introduction to the plants deer love to eat!)

You can do it whichever way you want. If you choose to dig up the plants now and hold them in pots over the winter, make sure they stay warm enough that the roots don't freeze if we have a spell of especially bitter cold weather like we did last year.

The general rule of thumb for plants growing in containers is that they are considered to be growing in conditions one zone colder than plants in the ground in the same location. So, for example, if you are in zone 7 and put zone 7 plants in containers, they then are growing in zone 6 conditions since they are losing the insulation of being grown in the ground. Most of the plants you mentioned should be able to handle weather exposure being one zone colder, but maybe not the lantana. One way around the coldness issue is to pot up the plants and then sink them back down into the ground, so the ground can keep them warmer than they'd be in the pots. Or, if you have a sheltered spot up against the side of a building where you can line up the pots and let the building block, for example, the north winds, then you can heap up hay, straw, bark mulch or chopped/shredded autumn leaves around the pots to insulate the soil inside the pots and keep it warmer. If you were going to have a wicked cold spell with zone 5 winter temperatures for a couple of days, you could heap more of those mulch materials on top of the pots, or throw heavy blankets or something over the top of them. I don't think you'll have to worry a lot about typical winter temps, but will have to watch out if extraordinarily cold weather is forecast.

I've never moved asparagus so do not know if the three year clock resets, but I don't necessarily think it would. Most companies sell one-year old roots, but occasionally I've seen two-year-old or three-year-old roots being sold and I don't think they'd sell the older, larger (and more expensive) roots if the clock was going to reset when the roots were planted.

If you keep the potted plants inside the garage or shed, be sure you remember to give them just a little moisture now and then so the roots and soil do not get too dry. Dry roots suffer freeze damage more easily than moist ones.

If it were me, I think I'd likely dig them now, pot them up and sink the pots right back down into the ground. Or, I'd wait until spring.


    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 11:55AM
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Hi Mia

Yes you can take it with you. I have for several moves. Last big take it with you was in July 2008.

Unfortunately this time I moved in to an apartment, and had to leave most behind. Some is in a temp bed, at my daughters, to be dug up and moved to a yard that I will hopefully have soon, along with a house.


Here is a link that might be useful: pics of things I moved!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 8:22PM
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If the grasses are warm season grasses that are blooming they will most likely die if you try to move or divide them this time of year. I have killed them moving them in fall. If you can, it might be better wait until they are dormant or better yet, post the question on the Ornamental Grass forum listing the kinds you have. Donn is an expert on this and you will get some good professional advice.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 8:55PM
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Thanks for all the advice, everyone. Glad to hear it can be done. First step is finding the house, I guess!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 5:33PM
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