I am going to talk to you about Winter Tree and Shrub Transplanting Tips and Why Now is the Ideal Time.
Sounds crazy right? This isn’t gardening season, it’s winter. Spring is gardening season!
Well . . . that’s sorta true.
People really get confused about when to transplant what and how to go about it. So today I hope to dispel some of those issues and put a few gardening myths to rest. What are we doing around the nursery right now? Digging like crazy, that’s what.
It’s December 7th and Duston and I just dug these Japanese maples two days ago.
Transplanting Season Begins after the 1st Hard Freeze in the Fall.
It takes a hard freeze to trigger plants into dormancy. Not a frost, but a really hard freeze where the temperatures dip below 32 degrees F. for a period of at least a few hours. Once that happens, the plants go to sleep for the winter and rest. And since they are dormant and resting, it’s the safest time to transplant them. For most things, especially deciduous plants, it’s the only safe time to transplant them.
Transplanting Season Ends as Soon as Trees and Shrubs Make Leaves in the Spring.
So there you have it! The actually transplanting season starts at the very end of the growing season and ends at the beginning of the growing season. In the nursery business we often find ourselves anxiously twiddling our thumbs waiting for that first freeze in the fall so we can start digging (harvesting) plants. Then come spring we dig like crazy knowing full and well that once the leaves appear it’s game over until late fall.
Now there are some exception to these rules. For instance, evergreens have a different set of rules. They cannot be dug during the spring or the early summer because they are loaded with soft new growth and they are actively growing. But evergreens quit growing toward the end of summer and the new growth hardens off and towards the end of summer it is fairly safe to dig them. But this only applies to evergreens and not deciduous plants.
Click here to learn how easy digging and transplanting Japanese maple trees can be.
Plants are more Like People than You Think.
Think about it this way. If you are going in for complete knee replacement would you prefer that your doctor do the surgery while you are awake or while you are in a very deep sleep? It’s a silly question I know, but it’s the same for your plants. They need to be almost comatose before they can be safely transplanted because during the process of transplanting roots are severed and if the plants are awake when that happens they will go into shock just like a human being does when the human body is severely injured.
Should You Cut Roots When Transplanting or Should You Dig Deep So You Don’t Cut Any Roots?
Not only is cutting roots when transplanting okay it’s recommended because when a root is severed the plant immediately goes to work replacing the roots that it lost. The new roots are called lateral roots because they are not growing out away from the tree but they are growing pretty much perpendicular to the root that was severed. What this does is create more roots, and more fibrous roots. Fibrous roots are good because they are quicker to pick up water and nutrition than old established roots.
Root Pruning? Air Pruning?
“Mike, whaddya smokin?”
In the nursery business we routinely and intentionally root prune our plants so they develop good strong root systems. Rooting pruning is extremely important in the production of plants, especially trees. Most root pruning occurs when plants are transplanted out of one growing area and put into another. Sometimes with small trees we put them in bottomless pots and put the pots on a wire bench instead of the ground so that as the roots try to grow out the bottom of the container they are exposed to the air and the tip of the root is killed back. This is called air pruning and it really helps to produce small trees with spectacular root systems.
If we don’t air prune small plants then we actually pull them out of the container and cut the roots. This makes the root systems fill out more and at the same time it breaks the cycle of root girdling that will take place with any container grown plant after a period of time.
Don’t Confuse Planting with Transplanting.
Planting and transplanting are two completely different things, but people often confuse the two. For the most part the planting season runs 365 days a year as long as the ground is not frozen. Even planting into frozen ground won’t hurt the plant if you can actually dig the hole. Planting is the act of putting a plant into the ground.
Transplanting is the act of first removing a plant from the ground and involves the digging of the plant out of the ground, doing damage to some of the roots. Transplanting is very traumatic to non dormant plants, while the act of planting a plant is almost a non even as far as the plant is concerned. All of the damage and trauma happens in the digging of the plant. None happens with the planting of a plant.
It’s really important to note the difference between the two.
In the above photo I just dug this Japanese maple tree and I’m sure I severed a number of roots in the process. That won’t hurt the tree and in the end it will really help it to develop more fibrous roots and as soon as the tree is planted into it’s new location it will quickly root into it’s new home.
From this point all of the trauma that this tree is going to experience has already happened. It’s been dug. Now I have to wrap the root ball in burlap.
Opposite corners of the burlap are tied together then pinning nails are used to pin the root ball so the burlap is nice and tight. We don’t want the tree wobbling around in the root ball, the root ball has to stay nice and tight.
Notice how the pinning nails have a rounded head to protect your fingers as the nails are pushed into the ball? When pinning a root ball you actually use the pinning nail as leverage to hook a flap in the burlap and pull it tight against the rest of the root ball. Then the nail is pushed over almost 180 degrees so it’s parallel to the root ball then it’s pushed in tightly. The nail holds the burlap tight and the tension on the burlap actually holds the nail in place. The process is similar to using a chain binder to pull a steel chain tight to tie down cargo.
Once the root ball is tightly pinned the digging process is finished. From this point on the tree is safe and sound and can be sold and planted at any time. We are digging these now in the fall, we are setting them in our holding area and over the winter we are covering the root balls with leaves to give them a bit of insulation but mostly to keep the wind and the sun off the ball. They will freeze but it won’t hurt them as long as they are not allow to dry out.
From this point on those tree can be sold and planted at any time of the year. Wanna know a secret?
Plants are Happiest in the Ground!
That’s the secret. When you buy a plant and take it home the absolute best thing you can do for that plant is to get it planted as soon as possible. Plants are happiest in the ground, they are not all that happy sitting on top of the ground, nor are they very happy being grown in a container. Doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, as long as the ground is not frozen solid you can and should install the plant into it’s permanent home.
These are the Japanese maples that we recently dug. We covered the root balls with leaves. Some of the leaves have shifted and settled in between the root balls which is a good thing. We’ll add more leaves now for the rest of the winter. We also use rodent bait stations in this area because these leaves make things so nice and toasty that field mice and other rodents will nest between the root balls and during the winter they will actually feed on the stem of the trees chewing off the bark and the cambium layer which can be fatal to the tree. It’s hard to imagine that a mouse or a rabbit can kill a tree, but they can.
If you look closely in the above photo you can see the green PVC pipe between the rows of plants. That’s a bait station. I use the PVC pipe to keep dogs etc. from finding the bait as well as keeping the bait out of the weather a little. The bait that we use is weather resistant. It’s made for farm use.
How Big Should the Root Ball Be?
The rule of thumb is that for every once inch of tree caliper you should have about 11″ or 12″ of root ball. A tree that has a caliper of 1″ would need a root ball approximately 12″ wide. Tree caliper is the diameter of the trunk measured six inches up from the soil line.
I made the decision to dig all of these Japanese maples last summer because I want expand the pasture area for The Miniature Donkeys. I also wanted to sell these before they get too big to handle. But we couldn’t do anything but wait until we got our first hard freeze. In the nursery business it’s often “wait then hurry up!” I knew that we needed to dig them, but we just couldn’t get started until about a week before Thanksgiving. Then it’s dig like crazy before the ground freezes.
Transplanting at the Right Time of the Year is Crucial.
You have to plan ahead then execute you plan at the precise time.
I knew that I needed to dig these two Lynnwood Gold Forsythia but I’m not even sure what I’m going to do with them or where I want to plant them. But they were in my way and I knew that I had to dig them and I had to do it while they are dormant. So I dug them and just heeled them into my potting soil pile for now. Come spring I’ll do something with them.
In a few weeks I am going to cut the daylights out of them and I should get at least 1,000 hardwood cuttings from them. Doing hardwood cuttings is also a winter sport, so we’ll be making those cuttings and sticking them soon. They’re dormant so they won’t root until spring, but they will root just about the time they start making leaves.
I hope that I’ve explained this well enough, but if not, just post your questions below.
Does transplanting after the first freeze apply to winter heather as well?
I would assume so.
Dan comer says
You’ve truly inspired me. I’ve been watching your videos for years. This spring, I’m opening my own backyard nursery. Thank you for all you do.
That’s absolutely awesome! Be sure to take our $7 test drive of the members area. You’ll get a lot of value for $7 even if you decide not to become a permanent member.
I live in Ohio middle of February and I am moving and would like to take my rose bushes with me the ground is frozen is it safe for them to be moved(Roses have sentimental value to me)
As long as you can dig them now while they are dormant they should transplant just fine.
I live in the foothills of the Sierras in CA. We never get a hard frost. Nighttime temps will sometimes get down to the high 20’s end of December/early January for a few days. I have a mystery bush that came up wild in my yard a few years ago. PG&E says it has to be taken out because it is too close to a power pole. It has just lost all of its leaves and will start to get new leaves in early February. Maybe late January. Can I try to transplant it now? Or should I wait a couple of weeks? I have to move it before PG&E comes by again or they will kill it.
No leaves? I’d move it now.
Kristi Stull says
Hi mike I live in Colorado springs and its been cold this winter. Anyway we recently moved and brought a bunch of our ivy with., when putting back into the ground do I water? Today is relatively nice high of 50.
Absolutely water the ivy in when you plant it, the only when the soil is dry.
You have a wonderful website and I re-read it frequently to try to get it through my head I CAN transplant in winter. Well, I am in SE Virginia (zone 6 I think) and we were having a very mild “winter”, just the occasional dip. I decided to transplant some forsythia while in the low 60’s ….the ground was wet and very easy to dig. I put them in the ground and then a couple days later the temps went down below 30. Is fluctuating temps Ok? It is now back in the mid 60’s!!!
Also, can I skip the burlap step when putting right back in the ground somewhere else?
Thank you for your information!!
Once the plants are dormant as they now are, you can transplant and not worry about temp fluctuations. Worse case scenario is that it gets so warm they start to leaf out and nothing any of us can do about that. Probably not likely to happen. No, when just moving from one spot to another you do not need burlap. Just don’t leave bare roots exposed to the air for any length of time.
Hi Mike. Just happened upon your blog today researching planting depth. There’s a wealth of info here!
I didn’t find an answer to my exact question though, so I have found my way here…
We have some perimeter flower beds around our patio. Shrubs were planted last year but were obviously planted too deeply. Plants need brought up in beds 4-5” (think patio goes directly to bed and then brick wall behind—so beds should be level with masonry) Not sure how to handle this. Obviously I can’t just mulch that much, but can I dig these all up now?
Thanks for any info you can give. Surely appreciate it.
Digging them now would be very dangerous for the plants, better to leave them as is and mulch lightly. If you want to move them you have to do so between Thanksgiving and late winter or very early spring.
I just dug up a crepe myrtle, coral bark maple, a dogwood, and some lavender. We’re moving from our house and taking these with us to the new house in two weeks. I’ve placed all of the plants either in 5 gallon buckets or cardboard boxes both filled with potting soil to cover the roots. I’ve left them sitting in my back yard behind my shed. Do I need to keep them watered or will mother nature take care of them until the end of the month? It’s February and the temps here in VA keep fluctuating from 60’s to 30’s, and we’ve been getting a good deal of rain.
More than likely they’ll be fine, but if it gets warm, put a bit of water on them.
Your article provided great information to a “Newbie” gardener. I was looking for planting information for a shrub rose and happened to come across your article. Thank you for the information. Much appreciated!!
Wonderful article! I It seems to me that you really care about the plants! This is great! Thanks for the post! It is very helpful! Greets!
If I understand this article correctly I should pot my plants, in ground and “raised beds” 1 to 2 years, in the early spring, March in Zone 5 Illinois. Want to have a May sale (my first). Is this correct, before they start to leaf out. Thanks
All the plants I have in the “ground” and in “raised beds”-1 to 2 yrs old, should be potted for sale before they start to set new leaves??? Like in early spring (March)here in zone 5 Illinois.
mike i planted two sickly japanese maples one fancyn leaf one plain. the fancy has not hardly doubled the other has tripled. we are moving in the nest couple months should i dig them up noe rap them and put them in my raised vegetable bed for now.
Amy Robillard says
I just wanted to express my appreciation for the correct spelling of terms like “heeling in”. It may seem like a small thing to you but correct usage is important to us oldsters (I’m 70) whose senses are assaulted regularly by “journalists” who want to see wasteful spending “reigned” or worse, “rained” in. I’m a big fan, read the newsletter (and save most of them) regularly and have a piggy bank collecting change. I want to purchase the Backyard Growing System as soon as I can afford it. Take care of yourselves, all of you.
You must have a wealth of gardening knowledge! I would appreciate any information or suggestions .
My grandmother gardened and had a beautiful rock garden where I currently live.
About three years ago, I started gardening. Sadly, she passed before I discovered my love for gardening.
I am currently living at her first home she purchased after coming to the United States. I started a flower garden about three years ago. Eventually, I want to attempt to bring her rock garden back to life.
Vines with thorns and hedges in the back have taken over the entire garden along with weeds and some moss. Few perennials she planted mange to come back year after year.
Should I completely strip it and start fresh?
I live in the Boston area, zone 6.
Please excuse my grammar. I tried my best. English was always my weakest subject. Math and Science are my strong points.
I’d remove the perennials first, put them in another bed temporarily, then re-worked the rock garden. Divide the perennials and put some of them back in the bed.
Sharon Finney says
Mike, I ordered 12 burning bush rotted cuttings and grew them this summer to about 15 in. They sat on the patio all fall and now we are moving, and I want to take them with me. Can I leave them in the pots (1 gal) all winter out doors?
Sharon Finney says
Hey, too funny. That’s rooted cuttings, not rotted cuttings. Hate it when that happens:
Thanks so much for that valuable information!!
Good stuff. So much useful information. Thank you.
Frank M says
What are your thoughts about helping plants, especially shrubs and trees, cope with deer damage. The vermin clip off limbs and twigs, which is irritating enough, but the nips and chews to the trunks are worrisome. Will most plants survive these, and can I do much to help the plant resist infection or death?
As long as the trees are not girdled all the way around they’ll probably survive fine. On wounded trees best thing you can do is take a knife and trim up the wounds removing any ragged edges that might trap water and or create a space for insects to nest.
Ellen Robison says
Hi, You have a great page full of wonderful info. But i need more info on the Golden Forsythia. I have a yard that I want to create a privacy screen going down one side of my driveway and out front by the road to hide my neighbors ugly yard. He has a lot of junk. In doing a bit of research the Forsythia seems like the way to go. I am wondering what type of a root system it will have though? No matter out by the roadside but I wouldn’t want the roots to push up the paved driveway.
Also, I live in Northern Michigan, and I am wondering how soon I can plant them outside here.
I do not want to need to do a lot of trimming on them, occasional pruning will be okay.
Can you help please?
You can plant Forsythia anytime the ground is not frozen. Roots rarely travel outside of the drip line.
Fred Paige says
Nice information for a lot of people . What to do with two year old maple trees that the deer and elk have eaten the top out of and the pine trees that the elk have rubbed the velvet from their antlers and just about ruined the pine trees, the elk didn’t kill them but the tops have very little bark left. Keep the good info coming!
consider a fence and just trim the trees up best you can.
Lyle Moody says
Hi Mike. I have been watching your webb site for some time and have learned a lot from it. I tried cutting as per your advice and had good luck. A few failures, but that was ok. Will continue to observe your emails. Thank you Lyle
It’s great to have you on board, congratulations on your success at rooting cuttings.
This is great straight forward info. Thank you for writing
James Kinn says
I would like to sell an established Japanese Maple that in the wrong place and valuable. How large a root pruning should I do this winter? This plant is at least 15 years and caliper of 1.5 inches. According to you the ball should be about at least 18 inches in diameter. Is there anything else I should know about this in Raleigh NC? Thanks for the effort and interest you show on the Internet.
Mike – I planted about 150 JM seeds this fall, just before a nice rain, well after dormancy period around here. I’m hoping for at least a few dozen seedlings, if not more, come spring. However, due to space limitations, I planted the seeds fairly close – about the same distance you recommend for sticking cuttings – about 1″ apart. Once they come up, can I move them, or do I have to wait until fall? -Lynn
Just wanted to say “Thank You.” I can’t tell you how many times I open one of your emails and get exactly what I needed to hear, whether it’s plant info or some much needed.inspiration. The other week I was looking online thinking I needed a greenhouse. Then I opened one of your messages and the first line said “You Do NOT need a greenhouse” Whew- that was close!
How did you know? lol Thanks again.
ronald wray says
I think I look for nothing , as much as I await you letters on my mail. I am getting started at a late date in life, but I look forward to every one of your e mails/ thanks so very much for without you I would be nothing . thank you Agnes Wray
Thank you so much for those kinds words and there’s nothing wrong with getting started late. I’m sure you’ll do fine!
First of all Thank u for sharing all of your knowledge with us.
I tried to download your info: on Winter Tree and Shrub Transplanting.
But I ended up downloading all of the email comments
How do I just get the information to print?
Thank you for sharing!
All the best
When you use the PDF function on these pages it’s probably going to print comments and all, but that’s not a bad thing. There is often great information in the comments.
Curtis Tiffany says
Mike, We have an multi variety apple tree, 8″- 10″ base, that has done little to nothing the past many years , WHAT can I do to bring back production after all these years of neglect? Thank You in advance. Merry Christmass and a HAPPY New Year. Curtis
I live in Florida and we rearly get a hard freeze here. So I was wandering when is a good time for me to transplant?
In your climate you are looking for the time of the year when the plants are growing the least. You rarely get a hard freeze but you do get cold weather this time of year. So for the past few weeks the plants have been harding off in the event of a coming freeze. So I would think any time between now and March would be a good time.
Good, good information. Thanks for all the advice. One question…..where does one find such a pile of good potting soil? Do you make it yourself?
Darnett Emery says
Hi Mike, This isn’t really a question, instead it is a compliment: Thank you so much for this information. I have been wondering when to do with the trees. As usual… you are spot on and very informative. Thanks again and Happy Holidays to you and your family.
Thanks Darnett, I’m glad you found this useful.
Barbara Karp says
We have forsythia bushes damaged by a storm. Now thy are small but full and I like them, however each bush has some very tall branches that i Would like to cut back in keeping to the size of the rest of the bush. I also think the tall ones are taking energy and nutrients away from the rest of the bush. What would you advise me to do, shorten the tally’s now or wait for spring? Thank you.
Shorten them right now, as much as you like, you are not going to hurt them.
Jeff Nelson says
Mike, you mentioned that you would soon be doing hardwood cuttings, and you also said that they will remain dormant and won’t root until spring. Do you simply store the cuttings in a cold area until spring and then start to root them or do you place them in their rooting environment now? Have you used and (if so) do you recommend using one of the ‘hydro’ recirculating cloning kits? Thanks!
I’ll show you what I am going to do with mine as we do them. But all I am doing is making the cuttings, sticking them in flats with a light potting mix, then I’ll set the flats outside in the cold where the tops can stay dormant. They might make some roots over the winter, if they don’t, they will as soon as it warms up. Even when the tops are dormant root activity will take place when the soil temp is 45 degrees F. or higher.
[email protected] says
Mike please see my new email address above.Thanks i realy enjoyed this letter.Happy gardening Sea Spilsbury
I really can’t change your Email address, you have to do that. Just click at the link at the bottom of any Email and you can update your Email address in the system.
I have a ornamental cherry tree that has been in the ground for 5+ years. I’d like to relocate it. Is it too mature for transplanting?
Now it’s not, just make sure you get at least 11″ of root zone for every 1″ of caliper which is the diameter of the tree 6″ from the ground. You can dig it bare root as long as you do it when it’s not freezing out and plant it the same day.
Paul Herger says
Mike I have a Beautiful Japanese maple but the trunk is 4-5″ dia. & ~15-18′ tall. Some knuckelhead built a garage right next to it. It is about 2′ from the foundation. Is it even possible to move at this stage or does it become semi beautiful firewood? heavy equipment is not an option. Thanks PH
If you can dig it out it can be moved, or at least you have little to lose in trying to move it. There’s going to be some serious work involved, see this page; http://www.freeplants.com/tree-stump-removal-instructions.htm
Virginia Crrook says
Mike, Is it possible that I could order your book via telephone? If so please send me your number.
Our customer service number is 440-259-4306. If you don’t get an answer make sure to leave a message and Amber will call you back.
Nick Franks says
This is great and you are the greatest. Thanks very much.
Thanks Nick, I appreciate that.
Another super great educational article and video-Thanks!
Robert, thank you for your kind words.
How long can the trees stay in burlap next year? What care should they get as they start to leaf out next spring and are not yet planted in the ground? I’ve seen trees with burlapped root balls at the local garden centers well into the summer that have leafed out and wondered how such a small root ball can nourish a 5-7′ tall tree.
They can stay in the ball above ground for a full season. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to spray some foiliar plant food on them at some point, but they’ll do fine without it. It helps a lot to mulch them in.
I LIVE IN ARIZONA [KINGMAN], AND HAVE RECEIVED SOME TREES FROM A NURSERY IN THE EAST. WHEN SHOULD I PUT THEM IN THE GROUND, AND HOW SHOULD I PREPARE THE AREA FOR THEM. WE ARE HAVING A COLD SPELL NOW, AND THIS MAY CONTINUE THROUGH FEBRUARY. I’M TALKING ABOUT 10-20º TEMPERATURES AT NIGHT, 50-70º DURING THE DAY. I HAVE DUG THE HOLES AND FILLED WITH SOIL, AMENDMENTS, AND COMPOST. HOW OFTEN, IF AT ALL, SHOULD THEY BE WATERED THROUGH THE WINTER?
I LOVE YOUR SITE AND VIDEOS. SOOOOO MUCH HELPFUL TIPS.
THANK FOR ALL YOUR INFORMATION.
Get them planted and water when planting then only when it warms and gets dry.
Murray Poston says
Can I just buy the misters?
Not at this time but I will have them available before spring.
Duane M Gustrowskyh says
TNX for the great info Mike.
Judi Klug says
How do you root the hardwood cuttings? Is this the time for evergreen hardwood cuttings?
I’ll do a post soon, but there is info here http://www.freeplants.com/homemade-plant-propagation.htm
Does it help grow roots if you water ( 5 gal/wk) a 2-3 inch transplanted tree thru the winter. I live in zone 5.
That really depends on your soil, but a tree shouldn’t need that much water over the winter. Just planted in the ground they will make roots on their own as long as you don’t let them dry out completely.
Charline Jolly says
Mike, it looks like you have lost even more weight! And over Thanksgiving too!! What is your goal?
I reblogged your terrific video at Permaculture Hamilton http://wp.me/p3TkW3-eu. It’s great to find a nurseryman in cold Zone 6, which is identical to Hamilton, Ontario. We purchased your backyard growing system last year, and are looking forward to trying it out in 2014. Thanks for stepping us through the rootballing process so clearly. Much appreciated.
Ron German says
Thanks for some very useful information. I have 20 acres that I am about to retire on and am not sure yet how busy I need to be when I retire from 40 years at the railroad as a plumber. Gardening is my favorite hobby and the natural world is my passion.
20 acres is nice, but think more along the lines of using 1/40th of that when starting out. When the area is completely full you can expand. The area you use the more weed control you’ll be doing.
Thanks for all the info! Us newbies can use all the re-educating we can get 🙂
In my long term planning I would Like to know more about producing my own potting soil.
I already compost like crazy, at least my neighbors think I’m crazy, but what steps can I take to make a quality potting soil?
Thanks again for all you do, it’s great!
Here you go. http://freeplants.com/ingredients-for-potting-soil.htm
Mike – I have grafted JM’s that I planted in beds in spring 2013. I’d like to dig them now for sale in spring 2014…. but have never used burlap. What about just potting them in 3 gallons now to overwinter instead of B&B ? When you’re selling the ones you just dug, do you pot them up first in the spring? Thanks. Jamie
Our goal is to sell the trees that we are digging now in the spring. Some of the smaller ones we are potting. Just make sure that your potting soil drains well. Japanese maples don’t like wet feet. If you pot them now put the pots in a protected area and put leaves over them like I am doing with the balls.
don idler says
Now I know why a maple I got at store did not make it spring freeze killed just as was budding out
If the tree was in a container or balled before it started budding that wouldn’t affect it all as long as you didn’t disturb the roots a lot when you planted it.
I have a 6′ tall fountain cherry tree here in Hubbard Ohio that has a BIG root out the northeast side. It gets in the way of mowing the grass around it, but the biggest thing is the leaves and branches grow mainly to the NE. The southwest side has hardly any branches on it. Weird heart shape. Would it look more rounded if I cut off that big root now during dormancy and let it grow back smaller, fibrous roots to replace it with. Will it send more nutrients and branches to the SW side? Also, if I plant the BIG root, would it grow another cherry tree, with or without a grafted branch from when I prune the branches back? Thanks for a great blog. Sorry I don’t get to write more but I’m sure you are really busy with the nursery AND the blog.
If the root is in your way, cut it off now. No you won’t be able to root anything that big. As far as the rest of the tree trim it up as much as needed to get it grow out balanced. These weeping cherries tend to hoop over if left unpruned. You’ll be amazed at how much better it can look if you do some serious pruning on it now.
I trimmed it back to nubbs last winter. All my friends said it would never grow back, they were sure I killed it. Come spring, it grew back bigger than ever.
Ruth Hill says
the moles are taking my backyard and front too .cant walk out there what can i do.
The moles are eating Japanese Beetle grubs. If you get rid of the grubs you’ll get rid of the moles. https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2010/07/how-to-get-rid-of-japanese-beetles-and-grubs-in-your-lawn/
Get a Siamese cat! They are called the loving gopher traps. I have seen them sit for hours listening to the underground scrabbling, til the rodent pops his head above ground.
Charline Jolly says
Get a Siamese cat! They are known as the Loving gopher trap. I have seen them sit all day waiting for the rodent to pop his head above ground. Good hunters.
Judi Klug says
See if your area has someone like The Mole Mountie here. He got our yard mole free within 30 days for one low price. He will come back during the 2nd and 3rd months if we see new activity, for an even lower price. I am very pleased.
After I moved a number of years ago, my back yard was full of “raised mounds” which I found out were Mole holes. One of my gardening books suggested putting JUICY FRUIT CHEWING GUM into the openings – only Juicy Fruit! I broke each stick in half & slid it deep into the hole. My back yard is now “moundless” WORTH A TRY!!
Thanks Aileen, I’ve heard that Juicy Fruit works, but it concerns me that the grubs are still there and they are eating the roots of your grass.
i have 2 fire bushegarys in 3 gal containers i did not get them planted last fall what should i do to keep them alive thru the winter
If you can get them in the ground that would be great. If not put them in protected area and make sure they are moist enough. During the winter it’s dry conditions that do the most damage to plants that are out of the ground.
Pramila Lall says
Thank you for this article.This surely is an eye-opener and very informative. Mike do tell me if this will be feasible in California’s
winter. I live close to Sanf rancisco and we do not have snow fall.
Secondly, I have three Japanese maples in planters not doing well.
What do you advise I should do? Will it be ok if I transplant them on the hill in my back yard which faces south east?
Japanese maples should be quite happy in your San Franscisco weather. Heat bothers them as much as cold and you just don’t get all that hot. I would think in the backyard would be fine. Just water them about once a week in the spring after planting. Get them planted before they leave out in the spring because when you take them out of the container they are likely to show signs of being root bound and those circling roots should be cut or pull loose before planting. I said you can plant year round and that’s true, but with root bound plants you should disturb the roots and depending on how large those roots are it could shock a non dormant plant.
Betsy Riley says
Thank you for the excellent article, Mike. what brand of bait do you use?
Betsy, I really don’t pay much attention to the brand name, I’ve used a number of different baits from the farm supply stores.
Jimmy Hayes says
Mike, I have a question.. I love taking cuttings and rooting plants. Most of the time I have pretty good success. However, I have a bottlebrush plant that blooms a beautiful red bloom that I tried to root with hardwood and softwood cuttings. I have not been successful in getting the bottlebrush to root. Any suggestioms?
I don’t know that I know the secret to bottle brush but I would try softwood cuttings using one of these techniques. The secret? Do lots of cuttings so even if you get a low percentage you still have success. http://www.freeplants.com/homemade-plant-propagation.htm
I have a camelia I need to move. They are evergreen but not like a cedar or spruce. This is actually the beginning of their bloom time. The one I want to move has never bloomed and I think it is the location. Can I move it now or do I follow the evergreen rules? I live in zone 7b. Caught on the edge of two zones.
In zone 7 I would think anytime between now and mid March would be a good time to move plants. Ideally right before they start to grow for spring would be great. However, when you try and time it that close, you forget and you miss that window of opportunity. So I’d say right after it blooms.
V. Jostes says
GREAT article; saved it for future reference. tell us more about your rodent bait. here in nw indiana, the field mice are going nuts! they have infested an entire border off the back porch. it’s raised & contains lovely, loose soil; we’re on clay here. the little fellas don’t care much for the D-Con i provide for their dining pleasure. our pastor has lost his entire garden to them, even the young trees & flowering bushes – it sunk in 5 inches (his veggie garden was raised with good soil also) because of their burrowing.
we are at our wit’s end. any help at all would be so very much appreciated!
I am going to post something about controlling field mice and other rodents in a day or two. But in the mean time, you need a weather resistant bait from a farm and garden store. They also sell bait traps to keep pets from eating the bait. But you also have to be careful to not allow pets to eat poisoned rodents.
terry kinnison says
I have several sea buckthorn growing now inside started from seed they are about 10 inches high. can I set them out now in there permanent home out doors in dec. even if they have green leaves or should I wait till spring.
With plants timing is everything. Plants get ready for cold and dormancy slowly so if you could have had these outside in fall they would have hardened off and been ready for the winter. Now I’d be afraid they are too soft and I’d be inclined to keep them inside until danger of frost has past in the spring.
What can I do if the ground is frozen and I have a lot of plants that I never got into the ground? What would be the best way to save them? These are mostly perennials.
Put them in an area this is out of the wind, pack the containers together tightly and if you can find some leaves dump some leaves around and a few over the pots. Mouse bait is a good idea as well. I’d be doing a post about using mouse bait in the next few days.
When is a good time to plant Ivy. I started some from cuttings earlier this fall and need to know when they should be planted on the hill side.I live in Maryland so we have a much longer growing season.
You can plant them now but since they are so small you have to watch them over the winter because the freezing and thawing of the ground can actually heave or force them out of the ground. At this point spring might be a better option.
Excellent article. Thank you!
C Dorr says
Yeah, right. Mike, you have a LOT less snow than we do. And it looks positively balmy since you are not wearing a hat or winter coat.
Here in Minnesota, we already have 5-20 inches of snow from a storm the other day, and air temps of single digits above/below zero. Wind chills are in the minus numbers. The ground is froze solid until the spring thaw. Transplanting now ? I don’t think so.
We would have done that back in September – late October.
I’d recommend you put a note on your article about avoiding transplanting in the northern States where the ground is froze. Otherwise, some inexperienced gardener will go out in January (when it’s – 20 degrees) and try to transplant something. He’d freeze his buds off. Given the hard winters we have, he’d not be successful & then think Mike is full of cotton fluff
or is a guy with some crazy ideas.
Just my 2 cents worth while I browse the plant catalogues, plan next years gardens, make a cup of hot tea & wait for spring to arrive.
I will agree with you slightly. The day we shot that video it started out at 62 degrees at 8:00 am but the temps dropped all day. The ground had been frozen a bit but it had thawed some. Transplanting non dormant plants in September is not good for the plants if they are not dormant. Evergreens? Sure. Deciduous plants not so much. It’s twenty degrees here today.
About that snow. Snow is a great insulator and if you have frozen ground and then get a heavy snow fall the snow will trap in the ground heat and the ground can actually thaw under the snow.
But of course we all have to adjust our gardening to our particular climate. We have 11 different zones so it’s a bit different for all of us.
George Kriesher says
I purchased plants in two quart pots all are perennials . I didn’t get them planted this year and I am keeping them in my garden shed. Should I keep them in my shed or outside ?
They’d be happier outside where the air is moist and they can get some rain and even better snow cover. A shed or garage is just dead cold with dry air. At least outside they’ll get the moisture they need even in the winter. Just put them in a protected area out of the wind.
Great job,Thanks , I’ve got some work to do before the ground Is too frozen !
I am moving and want to take 2 hazelnut trees with that were planted this year. Is it ok to dig them and take them with me? Thanks in advance.
Absolutely. Most people ask me this question in July and my answer is very different for them. Even if you are not moving for a few months, get them dug now and you can just put them back in the ground. If you dig them now you’ll severe the roots while they are dormant, then put them back in the ground they’ll be find like that until spring. Come spring you’ll want to get them out of the ground and either planted, potted or balled. If you leave them in the ground once the weather warms up they’ll root back in, but for now they’ll be fine back in the ground once you get them dug. Make any sense? Kinda like I did with those two big forsythia in this post.