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Moving a Limelight without killing it - hopefully

Posted by sherryocala 9A Florida (My Page) on
Wed, Oct 10, 12 at 23:09

I have a 4-year old Limelight that bloomed hardly at all this year. I think it had one flower. It's growing in total shade, so I'm thinking it needs some sun. I have freed up a sunny spot for it, but I'm leery of doing the deed since I lost a Pinky Winky last winter that I transplanted. It had lost most of its leaves when I moved it, so I'm wondering if moving the Limelight before it goes dormant would be better than waiting for dormancy. Fall just arrived today in my part of Florida and the humidity and high heat seems to be gone a little ahead of the usual schedule, but we have plenty of growing time left. What does everyone think would be the best way and time to transplant?

Thanks!
Sherry

Here is a link that might be useful: If only sweat were irrigation...


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Moving a Limelight without killing it - hopefully

Dormancy makes the trasition less stressful for plants so I try to transplant when dormant, I prepare the new hole ahead of time, I move as much of the root ball as possible and water it on the previous evening. Once planted, the shrub should be monitored as if it has just been planted for the first time. The soil should be kept evenly moist at all times and 3-4" of mulch should be maintained always.

It is not possible to transplant at such a time sometimes, of course. I once had to temporarily move some hydrangeas while roof work was being done. That time, I put them in a place that provide shade and was closed on three sides so they would not dry out easily; I maintained them moist for several days that way and then transplanted them back. By the way, some of the small roots near the top help absorb water so try to keep as much of those as you can. Have someone help you move this heavy object! And good luck!


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RE: Moving a Limelight without killing it - hopefully

Thanks, Luis.

Sherry

Here is a link that might be useful: If only sweat were irrigation...


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RE: Moving a Limelight without killing it - hopefully

I'm in Jax and have tried to wait until January to transplant dormant plants. The people at Trads will tell you not to add any fertilizer/starter fertilizer to your amended soil if you transplant before the last freeze. That way you avoid encouraging tender new growth that would be killed in the event of a freeze. Mulch and water and you'll be fine if you move as much of the rootball as you can.


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RE: Moving a Limelight without killing it - hopefully

That's great, Nolefan. I'll put it on my calendar for January. And I won't fertilize until after the freezes. This last spring mine didn't break dormancy until June, I think. These hydrangeas have me baffled. I only nipped this Limelight back a little rather than really prune it hard. Maybe that was wrong. It was weeks and weeks after my nipping before it started budding out. I appreciate your Florida experience even though you have a bit more chill than I do. I'd really love to pick your brain about Hydrangeas. One of my Merritt Supremes in sun has never bloomed. The other one in shade has had one flower in each of the last 2 years. My Penny Mac in mostly shade didn't bloom the first year and only one flower this year. I just keep waiting and wondering if the freezes killed the flower buds.

Sherry

Here is a link that might be useful: If only sweat were irrigation...


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RE: Moving a Limelight without killing it - hopefully

Make sure you are not applying too much fertilizer, For example, some of the Miracle Gro fertilizers have 30% nitrogen which keeps the plant looking a nice green at the expense of flowers. Also, maintain the soil evenly moist as best as you can and do not prune after the flower buds have developed (usually in July).

It just hit me, Sherry, you live in Ocala where one of my aunts used to live! At Top of the World, near FL 200, I think it was. Hope you like it there!


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RE: Moving a Limelight without killing it - hopefully

Yes, Luis, we like it here. We're on the other side of the county from OTOW. I don't use MG. I use organic ferts, and my shade beds (and sunny beds) are under micro-irrigation. Last winter was very warm and then in February we had two nights a few weeks apart down in the low 20's. Twice my variegated hydrangea budded out and was frozen back. I was wondering how many buds that little plant had stored up and would it run out. Covering it did no good. I may use the chicken wire and leaves/straw protection or put a lamp under the tarp this year. I felt so sorry for that plant as well as all the old garden roses that kept thinking it was spring only to be zapped by the freezes. These low temps are my only complaint about Ocala. We are not tropical at all because of them - at least in my micro climate.

May I ask - how hard do you prune your paniculatas in the spring and when?

Sherry

Here is a link that might be useful: If only sweat were irrigation...


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RE: Moving a Limelight without killing it - hopefully

Sherry,
We used to live in Gainesville and I've found that the climate there vs Jax is extremely different. So I would think that my advice for you would not be as helpful as from someone in Ocala. I know what you mean about the freezes. We get them here, too. Last winter was very mild, overall, and spring came early. But the people at our local nursery, Trads, kept warning everyone that it was too early to plant and trust the weather when we had warm beautiful days in Feb-Mar. Luckily, we only got one freeze during that time period.

As for your transplant time... I'd time it to coincide with your coldest most dormant time, before it breaks bud. For me, that would be the middle of January. I water the plant well the day before I plan to transplant. I bought a long spade, something that Roger on This Old House calls a transplant shovel. I go all the way around the drip line of my small plants at least twice, vertically, to cleanly cut my roots. If your drip line is too large to dig out you'll just have to use good judgement. Then, I try to dig out about 8" or so of dirt outside of the drip line with a regular shovel. This allows me to get easier access to the root ball of my plant. Then, I take my long spade and cut obliquely (horizontally) into the rootball, itself. I point the spade tip slightly downward in order to get more dirt/roots. If your rootball is too small the plant won't survive. Too big and you won't be able to carry without damaging the plant out your back. With the spade you make sure that you've completely horizontally (obliquely) cut through everything attaching the rootball to the ground. Be careful not to pry up with the spade because it will bend the shovel head. The next part works much better with the help of a friend. Take two regular pointed tip shovels and use them to pry the rootball up from the ground. You will find that you've missed some roots, so now is the time to cut then with the spade.Then, find a way to either lift it by hand out of the hole or feed a tarp or other device under the ball. I usually get it lifted out of the whole and onto a tarp. I may mist the rootball lightly to keep the tender root hairs moist. Be extremely gentle. Just a vapor of mist. Then, we drag the tarp to the new location which is already dug out and waiting for the transplant. Adjust for height. Amend if necessary/recommended. Drop in. Backfill halfway. Water it in well. Allow the water to remove any hidden air pockets. Backfill some more. Repeat. I have sandy, loamy/sandy soil. So, I literally can't over water anything... For a winter transplant, I then will water it every day for a week. Then twice a week for a week and then once to twice a week until it warms up. If I'm really worried about survival at transplant I'll add a little SuperThrive. I personally don't believe the science behind SuperThrive. It literally looks like snake oil to me. That said and old master gardener told me to use it when I transplanted a 5 gallon camellia 3 months after originally planting it and it survived without any yellowing or leaf drop. It probably lived because it was a new containerized planting that hadn't, yet, established any new significant roots. Nevertheless...

I definitely wouldn't go out of my way to find, buy or use SuperThrive because, again, it's probably snake oil. But if you have some it probably wouldn't hurt to use some.

As for covering the plants... I've planted 17 hydrangeas (all types, macs, pan, arbor) this year and I have 16 more (all types including oakleafs) on order from Internet nurseries that should arrive in 1 week. I definitely plan on covering, intermittently as necessary this winter. I used sheets last year and had some branch loss at the edge of the sheets. I also tried the landscape freeze covers they sell at the big box stores. Same thing. Most of the plants thrived and the edges liquified. So this year I'm building frames to go over the plants and I'm going to cover with fabric. I have always wanted to try a lightbulb but I'm afraid of catching something on fire. I lived in Boston in the past and people used leaves and burlap, but it looks like a lot of work especially for us in Florida. Because, I would think with our warm temps followed by random brief cold snaps, we'd have to assemble, disassemble, reassemble etc. Good luck with your transplant and do get some help lifting so that you don't hurt yourself or the plant.
Brad


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RE: Moving a Limelight without killing it - hopefully

In Florida, I would prune paniculatas while they are dormant (easy to tell!) and, with your short dormancy, that would be around January. Make a note on your wall calendar to check around Jan 15th every year.

I would not winter protect in Florida if I was living there. Over here, I do not do it and only once in the last 15 years did it cause a problem. Hydrangeas go dormant in November or December here normally and that year, we had temps in the 70s all the way thru late December when a week long freeze popped while I was out of town. Caught a lot of plants and trees unprepared. I got very little bloomage but still, no hydrangeas died.


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RE: Moving a Limelight without killing it - hopefully

Well, I moved it a few weeks ago. It had a few leaves left at the time which it promptly dropped. I cut back the branches to about 3' to make it easier to dig up. I keep thinking I see growth buds swelling, but maybe I'm just hoping for signs of life.

Luis, dormancy isn't so short here. Mine don't wake up until well into May. Spring is way over by then.

Sherry

Here is a link that might be useful: If only sweat were irrigation...


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RE: Moving a Limelight without killing it - hopefully

Thanks for the update. I'm surprised that your Limelights are dormant, already, in Ocala. Mine are literally still blooming. They're at the end of their season, but I still have white blooms and my macs have new vegetative growth.

Now, the Vanilla Strawberry that I mail ordered from White Flower Farm is another story. It came with yellow leaves that fell off the day after I planted it. It's a mere tiny overpriced twig, so I'm afraid to scratch off the bark to see if there's any green cambium... will have to hope for good luck in the spring. WFF told me that I was out of luck (when I called them) if it doesn't live through the winter since they guarantee it only through zone 8 (never mind that I was in zone 8 until the last USDA update). Buyer be ware.

My Oakleafs (Harmony bought from Nearly Native Nurseries, Munchkins from Wilkerson Mills / hydrangea.com, and snowflake from WM) are all doing great. My newly planted Ami Pasqueri, Domotoi, Compacta, Akashino, and Brunette (all from Wilkerson Mills / hydrangea.com), and Incrediballs from Trads are thriving and growing (I got them in the ground around the third week of October). As an aside, I highly recommend both NNN and WM. Their plants looked great! The VS, however.... looks like a loser and was much more expensive than the other two nurseries.

Hope your transplant goes well!


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RE: Moving a Limelight without killing it - hopefully

Interesting, Sherry. I got the dormancy information from someone growing mopheads in the Orlando area so maybe the variety makes a difference. Hope your VS returns, nolefan_2006. Those command high prices and I would hate to loose one like that.

However, this is shaping like one of those dangerous warm winters as I too report the plantedintheground hydrangeas still non-dormant, and only now starting to go into dormancy. Just barely. Most trees/etc have started the process but my mopheads are now turning the leaves bright green to yellowish while the oakleafs are still dark green (odd as a nursery that I visited had most of their potted Alice Oakleafs sporting reddish leaves). Oh well. Temps have been in the 80s/70s and a few 60s. Last time this weird weather happened, winter showed up suddenly and killed oodles of plants/trees in the area; my hydrangeas survived but only had two flowers total. Oh well.

I thought about winter protecting them but, with all the holiday stuff, I do not think that is going to happen. LOL! Happy holidays everyone!


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RE: Moving a Limelight without killing it - hopefully

Sherri,
Any update on your Limelight? I'm really interested to see how it does when spring comes. Please keep us posted. My Incrediballs lost their leaves this week. Oakleafs still have theirs. All my macs and my Endless Summers still have green leaves and a few flowers! Vanilla strawberry is still dormant... Or dead. Time will tell. It's too small to scratch the cambium layer. It's literally a twig... My limelights have lost 99% of their foliage, though a few still have a couple of leaves per plant.


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RE: Moving a Limelight without killing it - hopefully

Sorry for the typo, Sherry. Autocorrect strikes again.


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RE: Moving a Limelight without killing it - hopefully

Sherri,
Any update on your success?


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RE: Moving a Limelight without killing it - hopefully

My best advice for transplanting anything - anything - is to have a large bucket or large rectangular tub of water ready to receive the plant the second it is lifted from the ground. As soon as the shrub is free from its old location, immediately drop the entire root ball into the water so that the entire plant is in water up to the trunk. Then slide/carry the container across the yard to the new location.

The new hole should already be ready but sometimes it needs adjustment after you've seen the size/shape of the rootball. Not a big deal because your plant is comfortable for 20-30 minutes no matter what you need to do (as long as it is not parked in the sun.) When the new hole is ready, drop the plant in and water intermittently as you back fill the soil. So many people wait until after they've filled the hole and then stand there watering on top of the whole thing, hoping the water is running into the right places. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Water intermittently while you replace the soil, letting the muddy mix fill in between all of the rootball spaces and basically planting the plant in a giant muddy muck: push in some soil, fill the circle with water, push in some soil, fill the circle with water, repeat, repeat, repeat. I would say that 99% of my transplanted trees, shrubs, seedlings, etc never even blink using this method! I believe it is not letting the fine roots dry out that makes all of the difference. Things may work differently for others but this method is tried-and-true for me for just about anything that needs to be transplanted. Maybe it will help?

Carol in Jacksonville

This post was edited by love_the_yard on Fri, May 10, 13 at 11:54


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