Peonies, iris, daylilies, daffodils and hardy hibiscus in particular better have their suitcases packed because fall is typically when they relocate in my garden. To make your plant moving easier, consider the following tips:
1. Know where the plants will end up. That means not only identifying the site but checking the soil, amending it if necessary and preparing the site for the incoming plants including ample root space.
2. If in doubt, check the plants growing habits. Make sure you are not planting something that will grow tall where you don’t want it.
3. Whatever you are moving, dig up the plant with soil around the roots. Moving soil will help minimize trauma to plant roots.
4. Water. Add moisture to where you will be digging as well as where you will be planting. Wet soil is easier to dig, which is why I time my digging sessions after a good rainstorm. You also need well hydrated soil when you plant or anything you plant will die.
5. Wait 2-4 weeks until all blooming has stopped before moving.
6. Check for bugs. If you have any bugs, treat with Neem oil spray, which absorbs into the plant to fight bugs from the inside. Do not move diseased plants or you will be spreading the issues. Mark the plants and periodically check them until the bugs are gone, then move the plants.
7. Have mulch handy. Mulching newly-moved plants greatly increases their chances of surviving the move. Make sure the mulch is seasoned so that it doesn’t burn delicate roots.
8. Make notes. Keep a little map or notes in your garden diary about where you planted items so you can check back next year. I can’t tell you how many times I have moved plants, forgotten where I put them only to find them popping up a year or two later. I just found a catalpa tree I moved several years ago that survived and is now growing quite nicely. Plants will spend the first couple of years of their life growing strong roots. They will loose their green tops at the height of hot weather to survive. As long as their roots stay hydrated, the plants will survive.
9. Move on a cloudy, overcast day or late in the day so they don’t have to be stressed by full sun.
10. Check your new plantings. I periodically find a plant or two pushed out of their new holes by curious wildlife so ensure that they are staying where you put them.
11. Water daily for the first two weeks or more. To the plant this is a new growing environment so make sure you keep the soil nicely hydrated while the roots re-establish themselves. For some plants it can take several months.
12. Mulch. Once you know the soil is moist, add mulch. The mulch will help preserve the moisture but still check to make sure soil is hydrated.
13. Make notes of what other plants need to move.
Charlotte Ekker Wiggins is a beekeeper, gardener and sometimes cook. Published by El Dorado Springs Sun once in print and online with author’s permission. Copyright 2017, all rights reserved. This column may not be reprinted, republished or otherwise distributed without author’s permission. Contact Charlotte at gardeningcharlotte at gmail dot com.
WATER IS KEY – Once dug up, keep iris roots in soil or hydrated with water until you can establish them in their new growing spot. A pick ax makes digging easy.
PLANTS FAINT – Don’t worry if moved plants are falling over like these recently-moved daylilies. As long as their roots are covered with soil and kept hydrated, they will grow straight next year. (Photos by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins).