Three questions consume America’s thoughts right now.
1. Is Christine O’Donnell a witch?
2. Has Rick Sanchez’s IQ ever approached his body temperature?
3. Is fall a good time to transplant?
The answers are, in order: Yes, no, and yes.
I’m guessing most of you already knew the answers to the first two questions. No surprises there. But lots of people still ask Grumpy if transplanting trees, shrubs, and perennials in fall will kill their plants. The answer is: no, not if you do it correctly. In fact, for many plants, fall is the best time to transplant.
Think of digging up a plant as if you were on surgical table having a lung removed. Would you like to be conscious during the whole thing? No, you would not. Well, plants don’t like to be awake during surgery either. They prefer to be in a dormant state while transplanted to minimize shock and the length of time they scream their little heads off.
How can you tell when they’re dormant? A good sign is when deciduous plants lose their leaves in fall. If what you’ve moving is evergreen, this is still a good sign.
Of course, just because the above-ground part of a plant is dormant doesn’t mean the roots are too. Here in the South, where the ground doesn’t freeze, roots continue to grow in winter. By transplanting in fall, therefore, you give the roots an extra 3-4 months to adjust to their new home before new leaves start making demands on them in spring. Result — a happier plant next year.
Transplanting Do’s & Don’ts
DO try to minimize the loss of roots while transplanting. If this means digging a big, heavy root ball, get somebody to help you. The more roots you take, the more growth your plant will make.
DO dig the new hole as least twice as wide as the root mass you’re moving, but DON’T dig it any deeper. Planting too deeply kills many plants. Then fill in around the roots with loose soil, tamp the soil to firm it, and water thoroughly to settle the soil and remove air pockets.
DON’T amend the soil with peat moss, “top soil,” bark, or compost if you’re transplanting a tree or large shrub. Think about it. Those roots are supposed to spread way beyond the confines of the original hole. If you make the hole too comfy, they’ll stay where they are, and the plant will just sit there, vulnerable to drought and stress.
Good Things to Transplant Now
1. Crepe myrtle
10. Andy Rooney