04 Oct 2013

Lets Talk About Transplanting

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Fall is a good time of year for transplanting shrubs and trees and it will remain good as long as the weather is acceptable to work in.  The reason?  Well, there are many reasons why the Fall and Winter are exceptional times for digging out and transplanting plants that have been in a places that you don’t want them to remain in anymore, or, simply, if you have them heeled in ready to find a spot for them.

All plants have a cycle, and this time of year is a part of their cycle when your plants begin preparing for the winter months.  Annuals, in the true sense, are those plants that live through a summer season, form seeds, and die forever, leaving only their seeds as a legacy to their splendor. Annuals also have seeds with a high fertility rate in order to ensure their regeneration for the coming year.  For this reason alone you cannot successfully transplant annuals. What we call annuals are not actually always an annual plant, sometimes they are perennial plants that cannot survive our winters so they are really referred to as tender perennials. This type of plant can be transplanted and potted and brought indoors.

Most hardy plants: trees, shrubs and perennials have a nutrient cycle that, at this time of year, concentrates the nutrients in a downward flow toward the roots where the stored energy will remain dormant until the next spring, and this is why they are good to transplant now.  The fact that nothing is traveling upwards in the plant means that it will not receive a sudden shock when wrenched out of its place and moved.  In fact, it will barely notice because the dormancy cycle is well under way, and the plant is no longer trying to grow new leaves and shoots, instead plants are storing energy before the sleep cycle, much like bears put on fat before hibernation.

You can reduce the root mass and the top shoots of the plant when you transplant at this time of year with little to no effect on next year’s vigor. In some cases you may even increase the vigor of growth in the spring.  It is wise, however, to consult a professional before reducing (by way of pruning) the top of certain plants, as some respond poorly to pruning and it could change the overall appearance of the plant indefinitely. Growth habits are a whole different subject, and I will talk about that in more detail in a later column.  For now, get down and dirty and dig some stuff.

Happy Fall,




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