Transplant Shock

Got Transplant Shock?

Photo Courtesy of davidwhitedesigns via Compfight
"Grow Where You Are Planted"?

Gardening is a lot like life. You get tossed a few curve balls at the most unexpected times. Just when your garden is rolling along flourishing and throwing out color, it throws you a surprise. It's in the dead of the heat during the summer and you need to move a few plants or a tree. Even a novice gardener knows that moving plants is nuts in 90 degrees but it can't be avoided. Time to slip out an  get moving. The question is "Will it grow where it's planted next?"

There are numerous reasons that you may need to move plants or trees in August. Crazy gardeners like myself may have an epiphany to suddenly move a plant because I have  a new design in mind, a plant is overwhelming it's neighbors, or I have a new plant I want in it's plant. Out I go with my shovel. Most people only move plants when they need to. A prime example is when someone is moving to a new house and they want to bring some prized plants or trees with them. In this case, you just can't wait. Plants can be moved with a little prep and tender care.

Plants and trees will not appreciate being moved when the sun is intense, the heat is wet, and they will be "naked" for a bit with their roots exposed. They are flourishing where they are and up you pop with a shovel (or two!) and a few buddies to dig them up and turn their world upside down - sometimes literally. If they could talk they may ask you "Will I really grow where I am replanted?"

Here's some tips to help pave the way for your new plants and trees to adjust to their new home and grow:
  • Water the plant really well the day before the big move. Soak tree root balls generously.
  • Aim to make the move on an overcast or late day time frame.
  • Remove 1/3 of the plant stems to help prevent shock. Do not prune trees.
  • Trees have "drip lines". This is where the canopy of the tree grows out horizontally. The tree roots will extend this far and it's where you should try and dig around the tree to get as many roots as possible.
  • Make clean sharp cuts around the root ball of the plant or tree. Avoid ripping out the roots.
  • Aim to keep the root ball as large and intact as possible to protect the roots.
  • Move your jewel into it's new pre-dug hole immediately and partially fill with water.
  • Cover the plants with soil, mulch, and water well.
  • Shade the plant for at least 3-5 days. Depending on the size of the plant or tree, cover with an umbrella or tarp to keep it shaded so that it can recover.
  • DO NOT fertilize the plant after moving. It's not established enough to take up the nutrients and you may kill it.
  • Water the plant every day for a few weeks.
  • Don't be surprised if your plants or tress drop leaves. This is a survival mechanism and the plant will recover. Evergreens may develop brown tips which is normal.
  • If you are moving plants to a new home, place them in plastic bags so that only their roots are covered. Keep them in the shade and keep the roots moist.
  • Set us a shaded temporary nursery at your new home and "heel" the plants in until you are ready to plant. Heeling plants in means placing hem in temporary holes similar to what you see in nurseries. Keep them shaded and well watered. Try and protect them from wind on their trip to your house and in their nursery.
Don't be surprised if your plants and trees look, well, sick for awhile. They have experienced a huge shock and need time to adjust to their new home before they can begin growing. Give them continuous care and nurture them and you will be well rewarded! This change for them came out of nowhere in the dead of summer and they have a road of recovery ahead!

Have you ever had transplant shock?

Photo Courtesy of t3mujin via Compfight

"People are disturbed not by a thing, but by their perception of a thing" - Epictetus

We've all had an unexpected shock of some type in our lives. Perhaps when we look back we may have seen signs or had some intuition. Something happens in our lives and we are thrown upside down for a time. The best part of life's little surprises? We grow, we learn, and we become only stronger as we move on. A few weeks  ago I felt like a soon to be transplanted tree in my garden. I learned that my company will be merging. Our tranquil "garden" at work will become part of a larger flourishing landscape. You know what? Once planted, we will all begin to grow and become part of something better. The key is surviving the "transplant shock" and remaining open and positive!
Humans generally hate change. It's new, it can be scary, and we like to feel in control. Like trees, we don't want to moved and are stubborn to grow in our new spot.