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How-To

Master the Art of Transplanting

Understanding the science will help you move plants with less stress

Fine Gardening - Issue 187

One of the defining characteristics of plants is immobility: they don’t move. But try telling that to all the plants in my garden that have been relocated multiple times in their short lives!

Moving a plant from one place to another doesn’t come naturally to all gardeners. If you’re a bit uneasy when contemplating it, you may be more in tune with plants than those of us eagerly wielding our spades. Transplanting is an unnatural situation. Except in extraordinary circumstances, like mudslides or eroding banks, there is no equivalent experience that happens to wild plants. Remembering this motivates me to mind my Ps and Qs when transplanting, because it does involve shock.

To minimize transplant shock, think like a plant

Imagine you are a plant rooted in the ground. Someone approaches with a spade, and two minutes later half your roots are gone. Stripped of almost all…

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  1. Kathleen900 04/12/2019

    I will be selling a house in Northern Virginia this summer and moving them out to Virginia’s Piedmont. Not an optimal for plants and certainly not here in blistering heat of Virginia, even near the Blue Ridge. Any special emphasis or pointers for someone forced to move plants at the worst possible time?

    1. Kathleen900 04/12/2019

      I will try this again, with better proofreading! I will be selling a house in Northern Virginia this summer and will be moving many plants out to Virginia’s Piedmont. Many peonies will be part of this move. I am also eyeing a full grown Judd Viburnum for attempted transplant. Summer is not an optimal time for transplanting and certainly not here in the blistering heat of Virginia, even near the Blue Ridge. Any special emphasis or pointers for someone forced to move plants at the worst possible time? I know if they stay with the house for the sale, they will be plowed under for turf and “curb appeal.”

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