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.