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December 2012

QuestionI have a couple of encore azalea plants that I would like to move to different spots in my flower bed. Is now the time to transplant them or is there a better time? I've heard that fall is a good time for planting but I didn't know about transplanting. The azalea bushes have several years’ growth on them so they are not new plants. Also when is the best time to prune azaleas?


AnswerFall is a great time for planting hardy trees and shrubs, but more tender plants I prefer to wait until winter weather is over before transplanting or moving. If the site they are in is really bad for the plant, I would take my chances and move them. If you just need to relocate them, I would wait until spring. Azaleas can struggle in a particularly cold winter, and will be hardier with an intact root system. If we could only look in the crystal ball and know what kind of winter we will have, it would make life easier. Last year they would have thrived with a fall planting since we had no winter, but you just never know.

October 2011

QuestionWe want to move a leather leaf mahonia plant to another spot....when is the right time to do so?


AnswerLeatherleaf mahonias are pretty tough plants. I think they would be safe to move almost any time, but specifically during the dormant season – November through February would be ideal. Make sure they have a somewhat shady location.

October 2011

QuestionI finally found out what my purple berried plant was from reading your article. I have a beautyberry or French mulberry, but it is growing in a bad location. When is the best time to move it?


AnswerCallicarpa americana or beautyberry, is a tough native. It can be moved anytime from November through February. Make sure you water it and mulch, and it should come through fine. If it has multiple crowns, you could also divide it when you move it to increase the number of plants you have.      

December 2011

QuestionI have an azalea bush that I would like to transplant. Would it be alright to transplant it now or should I wait until spring?


AnswerIf we could look in a crystal ball and predict what kind of winter we were going to have, it would make the decision a whole lot easier. My preference is to wait until late winter or early spring to get through the bulk of the winter. Azaleas are shallow rooted plants and would be more winter hardy with an intact root system. If it is in a poor location that could lead to death if not moved, then go ahead and do so. If you can wait, then do so. The dormant or transplant season is considered from November through February, but plant hardiness does need to be considered.

November 2010

QuestionA friend is giving me some large hydrangea shrubs which I must move to my location. When is the best time to transplant them? They are huge! How much of the roots must I dig up? Send me all the information I need on transplanting.


AnswerUnless the friend is moving and you have to move them now, wait until the bulk of winter has passed and then move them in late February through mid March. They will be more winter hardy now with their roots intact. When you move them, get as much of a root ball as you can manage to move and get them in their new soil as soon as possible, planting them at the same depth they are currently growing. Make sure that you plant them where they get full morning sun and afternoon shade, or filtered sunlight. They won't bloom in heavy shade and they will wilt daily with full sun. You may have to thin them out a bit during the move, but remember that flowers are set and if you want blooms this first year in your yard, you want them as intact as possible. Water well the entire first year, and as needed thereafter. No fertilizer in the planting hole, but if you want deep pink flowers mix lime into the planting soil. If you want deep blue, mix in some wettable sulfur.

April 2010

QuestionI have a hydrangea in a tight spot that I would like to move to another spot which has morning sun. Is now an acceptable time to do that?


AnswerYes, get your hydrangea moved as soon as possible. Don't be alarmed if the plant wilts almost daily after the move, especially if it is a warm day, but do keep up with watering and they should begin to bounce back.

April 2010

QuestionI have three Sasanqua camellia plants that are 5' to 6' that are located on the north side of our home. They have outgrown their space and need to be moved to the east side of the house. When would be the best time of year to move them, and what should I do to prepare the new planting area?


AnswerI would move them now. Try to get as much of a root ball as you can. Replant in a well drained location and plant at the depth they are currently growing, or slightly more shallow. Water and mulch. If you damage any branches during the move, now is an ideal time to prune them as well. No fertilizer in the planting hole, but if you can amend the soil with compost that would encourage root spread. Don't be alarmed if they look puny for a month or so after the move, but they should bounce back quickly.

June 2010

QuestionI live in Maumelle and have about ten loropetalum shrubs. They have been planted for four years. I want to move two of them. The two that I need to move are about six feet tall and about six feet across. They are growing into our tulip tree. I could prune one or the other, but I believe I planted them too close together and this will be a recurring problem. Have I waited too long to move them?


AnswerI would prefer you wait until fall or early next spring. We had a glorious spring this year but we are heading into our warmest months, and moving a plant now will be stressful to the plant. If you absolutely must move them do so as soon as possible and water, water, water. The plants will wilt daily for probably a good two to three weeks or more until the roots begin to re-establish themselves. As large as the plants are it will be hard for a severed root system to keep up. If you can move them while they are dormant, the roots have a chance to re-establish themselves while the tops are not actively growing.

May 2009

QuestionI'd like to know how and when to transplant two Rose of Sharon bushes I have in my front yard. They are at least 5-7 years old. They are in a pretty shaded area and I have an area out in the back that gets more sun and I'd like to put them there. Can you tell me when is the best time to transplant, and are there any specifics I need to know about?


AnswerIf at all possible, try to transplant existing trees and shrubs during the dormant season—November through March. While it is possible to move plants during the growing season, it puts more stress on them and takes a bit longer to recover. I prefer to move hardy plants (such as the Rose of Sharon) in the fall, since this gives them all winter and spring to get their roots established before summer kicks in. For less winter hardy plants like gardenias, azaleas, camellias etc, get them through the bulk of winter and then transplant.

February 2008

QuestionI have several very old azaleas that I want to move from one flowerbed to another. When is the best time to transplant and what is the best way to transplant?


AnswerAzaleas have very shallow root systems, compared to many other shrubs. This makes them somewhat easier to move. You have two options. One is to move them at the end of this month, getting as large of a root ball as you can manage. You may lose some of your flowers by doing it before bloom, but it can be done. The other option would be to move them immediately following flowering. If you need to do any pruning, it could be done before you move them. Try to match the conditions they are currently growing in. If you move them after bloom, don’t be surprised if they wilt badly for a few days. Keep them watered and mulched and they should bounce back as the roots begin to take hold. No fertilizer in the planting hole, but do try to plant them in a well drained, well amended soil.


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