In no particular order, transplanting tips and techniques from
some of our
Richard W. Harris
Author of Arboriculture: Care of Trees, Shrubs, and Vines in
Harris stresses that transplanting happens in all seasons, and
that timing is not driven primarily by plant need but: "In most
cases... the time of transplanting is determined by plant
availability and the schedule of landscape installation."
In "Season of Transplanting" (page 229), he lists pros and cons
of transplanting general categories of plants, and working in
"...deciduous plants are most easily
transplanted in the fall after the leaves turn color or drop but
before the soil freezes, or in spring before growth begins.
Winter planting may be desirable for species that
can withstand being moved with a frozen root ball.
Late summer and
fall have the advantage of warm soil to encourage root
Spring planting before top growth begins will
avoid most damaging cold weather, allow some root growth before top
growth resumes, and ensure ample soil moisture.
Most plants... should not be transplanted in late
spring or summer, while they are still making rapid top
...and E.B. Himelick, authors of the comprehensive and very
practical reference, Principles and Practice of Planting Trees
and Shrubs, tell us:
From "Factors that can Influence Planting* Time" (pages
"We continue to learn from experience and
experimentation as various plants are planted under different
environmental conditions. ...Many plants are transplanted most
easily when dormant. ...Many plants are moved more readily after
terminal buds have matured. ...These species are best transplanted
From "Transplantability" (pages 29-30)
"Because field-grown plants are often
transplanted at least once during production, they usually
have a more compact root system and transplant
more readily than uncultivated trees. ...
The so-called difficult-to-transplant species can
often be moved very successfully if they are moved at the proper
time and given the proper preparation and after-care."
If you pick up a copy of Watson's book, don't miss the appendix,
Common Problems of Recently Planted Trees
*In this and many text books, planting = transplanting, since so
much of what is sold has been dug from fields to be transplanted
into the landscape.
Owner and for 30 years the chief propagator at Specialty Growers
in Howell, Michigan. (We're privileged to have Bovio as a Forum
mistake indeed, to water before transplanting or dividing. When we
transplant seedlings here, we carefully monitor soil (media)
moisture in our seed trays and never attempt to transplant when the
trays are wet. That's certain death, due to the extremely brittle
nature of wet roots, full of moisture; they'll break right off when
trying to tease them apart. Better to let them dry out a little,
and they'll be much more pliant, therefore a lot easier to
separate. I have never seen this important information in print
anywhere else, nearly everything you read says 'water well before
More of this story in
What's Up 33 and What's Up 32.