Q. Earlier this year we planted two rose of Sharon shrubs. They are doing great, but we’ve decided that we put them in the wrong spots. We know you’re an advocate of planting in the fall and wonder if we could successfully move these two to different spots and have them do good. What do you think and do you have any suggestions on making the move more successful for them? – P.W., Albuquerque
You’re right, I truly believe autumn is the best time to plant and even consider transplanting that you could wish for. The reasoning is so simple.
Planting trees, shrubs, roses and even perennials now allow the plants a full three-to-four month period of settling in without having to work hard to keep themselves alive. The heat of the summer isn’t battering them. There aren’t as many pests and if water isn’t delivered just when it’s needed, the plants are a bit more forgiving. After all, what they are concentrating their energy on during the dormant months is creating a healthy root system.
You’ll want to have the new receiving hole prepared beforehand. Dig the holes just as if you are planting anew. The soil that comes out of the hole should have a fair amount of compost mixed in to promote good soil health. Remember, the receiving hole should be wide but not too deep. If you still have the original containers handy, use them as a template to gauge the proper depth. Just don’t be stingy on the width of the hole.
Now you have the new receiving holes prepared, it’s time to tackle the shrubs. You might consider tying them up into a “vase shape,” using wide rope or even pantyhose to keep them in a more compact shape. That way you’ll be better able to work beneath them.
Since these plants are not even a year in the ground, you should have a fairly good handle on the area you need to dig up. I suggest you water first, so the soil surrounding the roots comes up with the roots. Dig up as much of the original root mass, soil and all, and get it to the receiving hole ASAP. Once you’ve gotten them moved gently, backfill the freshly amended soil you created and tamp that soil in snugly.
There will be leftover soil that came out of the receiving hole that can be used to create a moat to surround the shrubs. Making a moat will keep water where it’s needed.
Now that the shrub is moved, offer it a slow deep drink to fill the moat. Water every seven to ten days – maybe more if it stays really dry – through all of November, then gradually wean the watering back a bit. I also suggest an application of root stimulator diluted to the label specifications.
If, when digging up the plants, a root or two gets damaged, use a sharp pair of hand pruners and make the “wound” cleaner so that root is able to heal quicker. During the winter months be sure to offer all your trees and shrubs water. Especially if it’s going to get wicked cold, since a dampened root ball is insulated, keeping it far more protected during those times. Never allow any of your plants to dry out during the dormant season.
If the shrubs have put on a lot of new above-ground growth and you want to contain them a bit, now is the time to give those summer blooming shrubs a pruning. Remember this rhyme, “Prune after the bloom.”
So now, or at least soon, is the time to prune up your summer bloomers. Rose of Sharon, oleander, vitex and the like would be best pruned up this time of year. But keep the pruners away from your lilacs, forsythia and flowering quince. They should have been pruned up in late spring-early summer. Pruned now you will effectively remove next year’s flowers, and that would be a drag.
Transplanting this time of year is the perfect time and you’re right on target.
Happy Diggin’ In.
Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to email@example.com.