That should read, “Really Important Transplanting Tips”
Is it spring yet?
Not quite, but in some parts of the country it’s getting pretty darn close and I know
that you are just dying to get out in your yard and dig in the dirt. But even
here in northern Ohio, today is an ideal day to get out there and do any
transplanting that needs to be done.
Most people are really confused by when you can, can’t, should or shouldn’t
transplant things. And to make matters worse, there is a lot of gardening
folk lore that isn’t quite right and just helps to confuse people.
So take it from a guy that makes his living with plants. If I kill a plant, that’s a
bag of groceries that doesn’t make it into the grocery cart. Had I killed a lot of
plants in my career, I would have had really skinny kids.
Here in the north, Transplanting Season (yes, I call it a season, like football
or baseball season) begins in mid to late November. Even if you own a nursery,
you have to wait until after your plants have frozen really hard at least once
before you can transplant them. See? That really hard freeze actually triggers
Most plants cannot be dug when they are actively growing. It really can
kill them. So you have to wait until they go dormant. That happens around
Thanksgiving. And that’s the beginning of transplanting season.
So all winter long it’s actually safe to transplant trees, shrubs and evergreens
as long as it’s above freezing. If it’s below 32 degrees F. you don’t want
bare roots exposed to freezing air. Above 32 degrees? Transplant away.
Typically, here in the north, transplanting season continues through mid
to late April, depending upon what the weather does. Once it starts
warming up and plants put out new leaves, it’s game over until fall.
If you live in a warmer state the rules still apply. Wait until winter
when the plants are dormant, then quit digging in the spring or late
winter when they start growing again.
That’s right. Once plants start growing in the spring you should
not dig them and transplant them. You’re safe right up until the
new leaves appear and unfold. At that point you have to quit digging.
Are there exceptions to this rule? Yes, of course there are. Some
perennials, especially daylillies can be dug and relocated in the middle
of summer. They are tough little cookies. You shouldn’t move them
in the spring when they first start growing, but later in the summer
they can handle it.
Evergreens? It’s best to move them when they are dormant.
Trees and shrubs? They need to be dormant.
So grab your spade and start digging!