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Fall a good time to transplant shrubs and trees

  • Thursday, October 24, 2013

A few notes from the field: Roaches are moving into houses because of high tides and cooler temperatures, brown patch on turf, sod web worms still active and aphids are enjoying the new growth some plants put out in the fall.

This time of year is a great time to transplant and plant new plants. Many people are asking me the best way to transplant shrubs and trees. Here are some guidelines for successfully transplanting plants or trees:

Decide the size of you root ball. For every inch in tree trunk diameter you want a foot of root ball. So if your tree is three inches in diameter your root ball should go in a circle one and a half feet from the trunk of the tree. You could tie a string around the tree leaving 18 inches of string – then draw a line walking around the tree measuring with this string.

Root balls can be very heavy so consider a hiring a professional. Be prepared to pay top dollar to move a plant because moving plants requires much more work than planting them out of containers.

If your plants are way too crowded, get as much root ball as possible, and if they are so crowded that you cannot even get in there to work, you may have to sacrifice a few plants, so you do not kill them all. Always take as large a ball as possible.

Spray the plant you are going to move with an anti-transpirant (Cloud Cover, Wilt Proof, or Transfilm). These products will hold moisture in leaves and stems.

Drench the ground with BioRush and SuperThrive. These are bio stimulant products that encourage rooting. Repeat monthly until you move the plant.

Root prune the plant. Go to the area that you determined your ball to go out to and push a shovel straight down – do not pry on the shovel – just cut the roots.

Repeat this root pruning all the way around the plant. If the plant has been in the ground a long time, you may have to skip a shovel width each time you root prune to lessen the shock.

Apply SeaHume granular (Humic acid and Seaweed bio stimulants) to decrease stress. Repeat monthly until you move the plant.

Keep an eye on the plant for the next month. Be sure to water it as needed. When watering the soil, spray a fine mist on the foliage of the plant.

Since the roots have just been severed, this will help the plant absorb the water through the foliage and water the roots as well.

After 30 days or if you could wait until a cooler time (November, December, January, February), dig away from the plant in the area that you root pruned. Resist the temptation to pry up on the plant. You should have a ball in a mote when you are finished. Try to have the plant moved a month before it sends out new growth or flowers in the spring.

Water the ball so the soil will stick to the roots.

Severe the ball from the area underneath the plant.

Always handle the root ball – do not grab the plant by its trunk.

Move the plant onto a tarp or some burlap.

Be sure when you move the plant to its new home, you plant it above existing grade. Plants buried too deep are the biggest problem I see in landscapes. A plant that is planted too deep is starved for oxygen which affects many other plant processes (ability to absorb nutrients or causes root rot).

Be sure not to pile mulch up against the trunk of the tree or shrub as this will also kill the plant over a period of time. Consider using Cotton Burr Compost or Nature’s Blend as a mulch to get the nutrition associated with these products.

Spray the leaves and stems with anti-transpirant.

Use Diehard Transplant (contains a friendly fungus inoculum, wetting agents, water holding gel, humic acid, Sea Kelp, root stimulating vitamins and beneficial bacteria) should also be added to increase the surface absorbing area of root systems with the back fill. Spray foliage with BioRush as it is a special blend of natural organic ingredients designed to help transplant survival. Drench with SuperThrive.

Apply the right amount of water. Be sure to spray the foliage.

Apply the right amount of Cotton Burr Compost or Natures Blend mulch.

Apply granular SeaHume after you have moved the plant to encourage new root growth.

Stake the tree or shrub if needed.

Good luck.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a federal law.


Bill Lamson-Scribner can be reached during the week at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply. Possum’s has three locations including one at 481 Long Point Rd. (971-9601). Bring your questions to a Possum’s location, or visit us at http://www.possumsupply.com. You can also call in your questions to “The Garden Clinic” Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m. on 1250 WTMA. The Horticulture Hotline is available 24 / 7 at possumsupply.com.

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