Still Too Early To Transplant

September 21, 2016 | By | Comments (7)
theplantingtreecom phixr Still Too Early To Transplant

‘Tutti-Frutti’ butterfly bush. Photo:

Lots of readers are peppering Grumpy these days with questions about transplanting. A common thread is people have a tree or bush that’s too big for the spot it’s in, so is it OK to move it now? Grumpy’s answer — a big, fat noooooo.

At least if you live in the South. Here in north-central Alabama, this has been one of the hottest, muggiest, and seemingly endless summers in memory. As I write this, it’s 90 degrees — still. And we’ve had almost zero rain in weeks. Plants look about as happy as patients emerging from the orthodontist’s. Does this sound like a good time to transplant to you?

Cutting the roots of a stressed, suffering plant in order to transplant it — particularly if it’s a woody plant — will almost surely kill it. So be patient. If the plant is deciduous, wait until after it drops its leaves this fall. If it’s an evergreen, wait until after your first frost or your daytime temps remain in the 60s or below.

The night before transplanting a tree or shrub, soak the area around the base. This will make digging easier and help the root ball stick together.

In gardening as in life, patience is a virtue.



  1. Debbie Harris

    You had posted about the black spots on hydrangeas and to remove the leaves and then spray with a special something in the spring/summer when first spots are noticed. I have done this. My question is regarding the same thing only with hellebores. My hellebores has grown and spread but looks like it has had acid poured over the leaves. Is this the same fungus as is on the hydrangea and would the treatment be the same? Many thanks!

    October 23, 2016 at 6:08 pm
  2. Debbie Harris

    When is the best time to transplant my hydrangea? The leaves don’t ever drop but the flowers get dried out… November a good time or should I wait until February/March?

    October 23, 2016 at 6:06 pm
  3. Barbara Mcginnis

    I want to buy a Red Crepe Myrtle and need to know when to plant it.

    October 23, 2016 at 2:50 pm
  4. Judith Gaye

    I planted several southern living “queen mum” in May or June. Two plants in front of house get west sun and water from lawn sprinklers 3x week died
    Two plants in back south side in partial morning shade but afternoon sun get water from sprinklers 3 X week. They have bud shoots but never
    blossom before wilting. I followed instruction with plants what to do? Judith Gaye

    September 24, 2016 at 10:50 am
  5. Bonnie Metallo

    I have yucca plants that are 15 years old, they have bloomed only one time. All the neighbors plants have bloomed. Should they just be cut down?

    September 23, 2016 at 3:16 pm
  6. Donna

    so do I! I thought it was a bad attack of the grubs, so I poured water on one of the spots and then dug down, and no grubs. It has been really warm, no rain for 3 weeks, so I guess we should just reseed and water 3 times a day?

    September 21, 2016 at 7:54 pm
  7. Marty phillips

    I have bald spots in my yard! Help…what can I sow and when should I sow it? I live in southern Kentucky.

    September 21, 2016 at 12:13 pm

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