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Transplanting Bushes, Shrubs and Trees


Got a bush or shrub to move ? Not sure if it can be done? You've never transplanted a bush before!? Don't worry or fret. Most bushes and shrubs can be transplanted successfully. A smaller bush usually transplants better, with a higher success rate, than an older, larger bush. But, we've seen some pretty big bushes moved successfully, from one spot to another.

As a rule of thumb, spring is the best time to transplant most types of bushes, shrubs, and trees. During the spring, there's more moisture in the soil, plants are growing at their fastest rate, and the weather is cooler. Sometimes, during other times of the year, homeowners and gardeners come upon a situation where their bush or shrub must be moved. When faced with a "must move, or else" situation, by all means try to transplant it. After all, what is the alternative!?

Transplanting can affect the blooming of flowering bushes and shrubs. Often, the transplant will produce few or no flowers the next year. Normal blooms will return the following year. Transplanting can also affect the production of fruit and berries from bushes and trees. Again, it usually affects one year.. the year it is transplanted.

How to Transplant Bushes and Shrubs:

Here are the basic steps to successfully transplanting bushes and shrubs:

  1. Give the plant a good trim. Cut off about 1/3 of the plant foliage. With less plant structure to support, your transplanted bush or tree can focus on re-growing the root system.

  2. Remove the plant from its current location. It is very important to dig deep and wide. The more roots you get, the more successful the transplant, with less transplant shock.

  3. The bigger the plant, the wider and deeper you will need to dig. For trees, the tap root can go quite deep. Try to get as much of the tap root as reasonably possible.

  4. While removing the plant, disturb as little as possible of the root system. The more soil you take, the less likely you will break small, feeder roots.

  5. DO NOT shake soil off the root system. While it makes it easier to move, it will break more feeder roots.

  6. Dig a hole in the new location. Make the hole about twice as big as the root system.

  7. Mix plenty of compost into the hole.  

  8. Add peat moss, 1 part peat moss to 2 parts native soil. About Peat Moss

  9. Place the plant into the hole. Examine the bush or tree to determine which side looks best, and where you want to position the best side.

  10. The bush or tree should be planted to a depth level to where it was in its original location. Planting deeper usually does not help the plant, and sometimes can harm it.

  11. Begin to fill the hole with a mixture of garden soil , peat moss, and compost. Keep the plant straight up while filling the hole.

  12. After filling the hole, tamp down...firmly, but not hard on the soil. Tamping down hard can break roots. If the soil sinks around the edges for the hole, more soil can be added later.

  13. Water thoroughly and deeply. We like to use a light solution of liquid fertilizer or seaweed fertilizer at transplanting time.  

  14. Deeply water regularly. Keep the soil moist, not wet for 3-4 weeks. This helps roots to re-establish themselves.

Tip: If transplanting during hot weather, provide a light shade for your transplant for a few days. This minimizes wilting, and possible leaf burn from the sun.

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