Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Winter transplanting

After a few weeks of sinus woes, trying to hook up a new tv and sound system and watching an ever expanding waistline, I decided that I had to get outside. Today was the perfect day. Sunny, 60s, wonderful.

Moving plants is a good job for mid-winter. This is the best time to transplant most plants because they are now dormant. I have a long list of plants that I want to move this year. I started out with a rose called 'Lavender Pink Parfait.' According to the Antique Rose Emporium, this rose grows about 2 - 3'. Yeah right. Mine is at least 4 feet tall, positioned in the front of a border and looking totally out of place. I've wanted to move it for years.

Sorry for the terrible photo - I forgot to set the camera to autofocus.

The first thing to do is to prune it severely. I cut out all the dead wood and cut back the healthy canes within one foot of the ground. Pruning the plant will make it easier to deal with and also reduce stress on the plant when it starts to put out new growth in the spring.

Now it is time to dig it up. Carefully slide a shovel or spade all around the plant and gently move it back and forth to loosen the root system. You can usually tell when the plant is free from all roots. Lift it carefully out of the hole with the shovel.

Clean up the plant by removing all the dead wood and weeds that might be growing around it. You know those tree saplings that always pop up in the middle of the rose and are impossible to remove? Now is the time to pull them out.

The new planting hole should have been dug first. I add a bucket full of compost and good soil to ammend the new hole.

Place the rootball in carefully and fill the soil in around it. If, by chance, the soil fell away from the roots when you dug it up, don't worry about it. Just carefully spread the roots out and cover them with soil. Water it well after planting and tamp down the soil to eliminate any underground air pockets.

Last, but not least, mulch around the plant with leaves or pine straw.

Here we have a slightly different situation. This is hydrangea 'Tardiva' which has produced offshoots that can be dug up, removed and planted elsewhere.

I was anticipating a frustrating job with this because I thought it was going to be difficult to dig between the main plant and the offshoots. Fortunately the roots gave way fairly easily and it wasn't problematic at all. However, they came free without retaining any of the rootball. This always makes me nervous but really all you can do is plant it immediately and water it well. This has happened numerous times and the plant is usually okay. I ended up with three extra plants. I planted the larger one and potted the remaining two.

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