For those of us who live in the Seattle area, what do you think is the best way to know when it’s time to transplant plants such as roses, hostas, irises, rhododendron, and other plants in your flower garden? For the answer, just take a look outside. If it’s cloudy, cool, raining, muddy, and a day when you are least likely to want to do yard work, than it is probably the best time for transplanting plants.
How do we know this? Because Mother Nature knows when it’s transplanting season and that a transplanted plant needs to stay wet – before, during, and after it is uprooted. And besides, transplanting when plants are dormant assures that all of the nutrients from last season’s growth are stored in the roots and ready to feed the plant as it awakens in the spring.
I know…I know…my fair-weather fellow gardener; it’s not pleasant trying to uproot and transplant prickly roses while the Seattle rain is dampening your day, but if you wait until the weather is beautiful and the spring rains have passed, our Seattle weather can quickly change to hot and dry and then it is a bit late for transplanting.
Transplanting just before the beginning of spring when the weather conditions become optimal for plant growth is best. As the ground thaws and the plants begin to produce leaves or buds they can slowly focus on establishing their new roots and get settled into their new home before their prime growing season and trauma of summer heat.
A plant’s transplanting move is the most stressful event in a plants life. Choose the right time for transplanting and your irises, rhododendrons, roses, and hostas will love you.
And here is another thing; when we dig up the root ball to transplant a tree or shrub, we are cutting off many of the "feeder roots" (those fine root hairs where absorption occurs), that are located generally under the drip line of the branches.
Remember that it is very important to prune the upper branches when transplanting. This helps limit water loss from the branches and keep them balanced with the volume of feeder roots that will be lost to transplanting. When transplanting plants, it is critically important to balance the water lost from cutting the roots by pruning the branches.
If you miss your ideal day for transplanting plants, you may still be successful. There are products available to improve your chances of success if transplanting after the dormant periods ends. We like BioPlex Plant Survival Solutions www.bio-plex.com/transplantconcentrate. Saturate the ground with BoiPlex several days prior to digging up the plant. Prepare the new hole by digging it three times as large as the root ball. Add fertilizer and quality topsoil. Water the new hole generously before introducing the transplanted plant.
Continue to check on the transplanted plant and water every other day, if needed. It is best to water slowly and deeply so the water can seep into the roots. This may require pushing your garden hose nozzle down into the ground as you water around the newly transplanted roots. Watering regularly will help ensure successful transplanting.
Now aren’t you glad for our Seattle rain?