Transplanting Perennials

transplanting perennials, moving perennial flowers, how to transplant, plant division

Transplanting Perennials

Often we need to move our perennials to a different location in the garden, learn how in this article.

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The need will arise, when you are faced with transplanting one of your perennial or woody plants in the garden.

Reasons can be many such as:

The clump is just too big and you need to combine a transplant with a division of the plant.

The plant is out of character with the surrounding plant choices. This can mean color, size or texture choices are wrong.

The plant just isn't doing well in this location, whether it is a moisture issue, lighting issue or wind issue, you discover that the plant may adapt better and is better suited in another location in the garden.

Transplanting Perennials

Transplanting Perennials:

Transplanting Perennials: This Applies to Vines and Shrubs as Well

Even though we are addressing mostly perennials in this article, everything here applies to transplanting vines and woody plants as well.

You should note that woody plants should be transplanted when they are dormant, during late fall or very early in the spring, prior to the start of new growth.

Moving perennials is best completed in the late fall to early spring too, but if need be, you can move established clumps in the summer months, if you follow these tips.

Transplanting Perennials: Do Your Planning

Make sure you do your research on the plant you are relocating. You should be aware of the plants preferred growing conditions. If in doubt, check out our Plant Library, which gives you all the growing conditions receptive to the plant.

Lighting conditions: Does the plant prefer full sun or will it tolerate partial shade. Often sun-loving plants will tolerate some shade, but at the expense of plant size, bushiness and bloom.

Soil Conditions: Do you have the proper soil conditions that the plant loves? Some plants such as Hosta and Daylilies love wet feet, because the native cultivars are from the wetlands. Other plants in these conditions will develop root rot and die.

Soil PH: Often the pH level of the soil will not be tolerated by the plant. Make sure that the new location pH is receptive to the plants needs.

Bloom Color: Does the color of the plant fit well in it's new location? Are the colors complimentary with the adjacent plants?

Bloom Time: Will the time of year that the flower blooms sync with the surrounding plants in the area. Are you looking at this plant as a bridge between bloom periods of adjacent plantings?

Plant size: If you know the ultimate size of the plant, determine if it will or will not be too overpowering in it's new location.

Zone: Is the plant comfortable in the USDA Zone that it is put in? At times, even within your own micro-climate landscape and garden borders you can easily go up or down 1/2 zone.

This could mean that the plant is no longer happy in its new location because it may be colder in the open than when it was located close to your homes foundation wall.

Transplanting Perennials

Transplanting Perennials: Choose the Correct Location to Transplant


Transplanting Perennials

Transplanting Perennials:

Transplanting Perennials: The Best Time to Transplant

As we discussed earlier, the best time to transplant any plant is in late fall or early spring, prior to new growth.

If that is not possible and you need to transplant during the growing season, follow these tips:

    Choose a rainy day or even a cloudy day. If is best if you have had rain for a few days just prior to the transplant.
    Transplant in early morning or later afternoon, and not during the hottest part of the day.
    Cut back about 2/3 of the plants foliage to cut down of moisture loss. Don't worry, the plant will gain this back in now time and it will be a thicker, bushier plant as a result of this.
Transplanting Perennials: Prepare The New Site First

Let's start by selecting the new site with the planning information you obtained earlier in this article.

Estimate how large the existing clump will be and dig the new hole several inches wider and deeper than this dimension.

Hint: I like to dig up the soil in the bottom of the planting hole to loosen it up to a depth of about 6 or 8 additional inches.

I also mix in either cow manure or a couple of handfuls of sterilized bone meal into the hole. This will promote strong root growth very quickly.

Transplanting Shovel

Transplanting Perennials: Select a Good Transplanting Shovel

Transplanting Perennials: Dig Out The Clump

Select an excellent quality Garden Transplant Shovel with a sharp edge and plunge in down around the plant, giving you a large root ball. Keep this cut vertical and progress around the perimeter of the plant.

When you reach the beginning point you can start to apply a prying action to lift the plant out of its current location.

Lift the clump from the hole, being careful not to disturb the roots or the root ball.

Transplanting Perennials: Move the Clump to its New Location

Move the clump to its new location and test fit into the new planting hole. If you need to make modifications in diameter or depth, remove the clump and adjust the hole size.

The plant should wind up setting at or just a bit below the surrounding soil level. You can check this by laying a wooden yard stick across the hole and clump. Adjust as necessary.

While holding the plant vertically, fill the hole about 1/2 full with rich soil and then soak the remaining soil with water.

Now fill the hole to the top with soil, while making sure to compact the soil and not leave any air pockets. I find that the jamming the wood handle of my garden trowel into the loose soil works very nicely for this task.

Transplanting Perennials: Final Land Forming and Preparation

Once all the soil has been placed and compacted, form a shallow dish around the plant to receive water and hold it without draining away from the plant.

Make this dish about 1" deep. Water the plant well and s-l-o-w-l-y, to allow the water to thoroughly soak the planting hole and the root ball of the clump.

Place about 3-4 inches of mulch around the plant to help retain moisture. Again soak the mulch. Spread the mulch out in a circular fashion about even with the drip line of the plant.

If the plant needs pruning do so to reduce water evaporation. Also cut back the bloom stalks and massive leave stalks. The plant will greatly benefit from this pruning.