That should read, “Really Important Transplanting Tips”
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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!
Click here to learn about transplanting Japanese maple trees in 3 easy steps.
Hi there! I’m trying to save a couple of lantana plants. My Mom had them in pots two years ago. Then she transplanted them into a bed. Trouble is, the bed is in 100% shade. They’re so sad! They put out one round of flowers and stopped flowering. I could wait until winter to transplant them, but I’m afraid that after such a puny growing season this summer, they might not make it through the winter. They’re looking mighty peaked.
Am I crazy to think it might be good to dig them up and put them to a full sun bed and hope they get well established and happy before winter? Or should i just let them eek out their meager existence where they are and hope they don’t die this winter and transplant them next spring?
Digging them now could be traumatizing. Me? I’d wait and move them in winter.
Yep. Thanks for the nudge to let them be. I’ll sit tight for now, move them while dormant, and hope for the best in spring!
Jody Smith says
I am just about to try rooting and growing cuttings. It is December in Minnesota now and the ground is freezing and will stay that way for three to four months. I want to root Oaks, Maples, and shrubs. Can I cut and put them in wet sand now (they will freeze solid)? Or should I wait until spring? Second can I transplant these rooted sticks directly to the ground? And when should I do this?
Oaks and maples are usually grown from seed, don’t do well from cuttings. Any hardwood cuttings that you wish to do now, yes you can stick them in damp sand and leave them outside. We’ve done thousands in the past two weeks and they are all outside as I type this and it’s cold and snowy here.
Gerry Kenney says
Hey Mike, I love your website and all of your information. I live in Concord, NC, Zone 7b and I want to transplant my canna lilies to another area in my yard. When is the best time to dig them up and transplant them? I appreciate your knowledge about all of gardening.
When they are dormant. Here in Ohio we’d dig them and store them inside near the end of Nov so for you, maybe a little later than that to transplant them. As soon as the tops die down you can do it.
Hey Mike, this is the first time I have responed to your site. I really love it and recommend you to all my friends. I would love to have your growing manual but iam on disability and cannot afford it. My question is ..I am moving to Georgia from Nc and want to know if i can transplant my bushes (all perrenials) and take them at this time of year??Thank you for this site I have been with you for several years.
Cathy, transplanting trees and shrubs now is extremely risky. Especially taking them to Georgia in the summer. I know what it’s like to be short of, or completely out of money. However, change won’t happen unless you make it happen. Many years ago in the dead of winter I ordered all of the back issues of a newsletter that I was interested. $700.00 of money I didn’t have! I put it on a credit card. That was around 1990 I think. I still have those newsletters. They changed my life. You wouldn’t even know who I was had I not invested in those newsletters that I could not afford. http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm
I would like to try and grow maple to create bonsai, and reading a lot of info on internet….not understanding all that I am reading..
First off I live in staten island ny…..i have trees here that shed their seeds (the seeds with wings that come down like little helicopters) now in the spring, however when i read they say theses seeds fall down in the fall? do they fall 2 times a year?
I plan on getting these seeds acer palmatum from a seed seller, i understand they need to be stratified however when?
can i buy seeds now and start the process and in 90 days after out of refrigerator plant them inside?
or do i need to wait until feb. and wait until may to plant?
Geraldine keller says
Mike i do not have a web site to advertise through as of yet. I have had so much sickness and 3 deaths in my family since the last of January. I am so behind on my Plants. I have about 10 butterfly bushes that i wanted to get into pots early before they started to grow. now they are about 3 feet tall. i have them in the field. What do you suggest that i do with them? I need some advise. Thanks. i love your postings i am trying to catch up. I have missed so much.I still have sickness in my family. I have a
2 lb grandson. That is taking up so much time since i have to keep the other grand kids which are 2,3,5 years old. my time is so short. But I am working as fast as time will allow. is it to early to start making babies?? I mean plant babies HA! HA! Don’t need any more 2 pound little boys. They are to small and critical. Thanks Geraldine
margaret ferguson says
i am a beginner gardener and have learned so much watching your recent videos on the cutting back of hosta and pruning techniques. Thanks for your help you have made my gardening experience less stressful and more exciting
Margaret, that’s what I aim to do. Thank you.
margaret ferguson says
when is the best time to divide lantana and transplant lantana
I learned many things from your presentation. Thanks for your labor of love in informing us do it yourself gardeners. I did not realize that the bark was where the nutritional value in mulch mattered. So these pretty red dyed pallets matter not, but rob your plantings of nitrogen.