Transplanting deutzia and a barberry

I sometimes think of the garden as a vast jigsaw puzzle with the plants acting as individual pieces. It is like one of those maddening types of puzzles where the pieces sometimes look as if they fit and even feel like they fit, but they don't. I am constantly shuffling these pieces around trying to find the perfect spot for each.

During the summer, I started a list of plants that I wanted to move and got a little frustrated when that list reached a dozen plants. How do I let that happen? Why do I put plants in places where they are not well suited?  Often it is just a matter of bad planning and not properly envisioning the eventual size of a plant. Sometimes it is accidental and not your own fault when you are given incorrect information about a plant. Other times it is trying to cram in plants that were bought on impulse without taking the time to consider that there just isn't a good spot for it.  A downside to downsizing...

We've had some nice dry and sunny days this week so I started transplanting. Both of these shrubs - Berberis caliantha and Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko' are lower growing plants are best suited for the front of a border (especially in the case of the deutzia) and perhaps the middle of a border for the barberry.

The first to be moved was the barberry Berberis caliantha. I am still scratching my head as to why I planted this shrub at the back of a wide border. It is a beautiful shrub with dark glossy green leaves that are evergreen. They remind me of holly leaves. It bloomed for the first time this year with bright yellow blooms. It has an erratic growth habit but is reported to grow from 3 -4 ft. It was virtually screened by roses and an abelia. 

I was afraid there would be no place for it but I can always find a spot even it that means sacrifysing another plant. In this case, I decided to take out a ninebark (Physocarpus 'Dart's Gold') that has been under performing since I brought it home as a  rescue from work. After digging it up, however, I could see that the roots had really taken hold and had extended rather deeply. So I potted it up. I will either give it away or find another spot for it.

I removed the ninebark and prepared the hole by adding some of the wonderful horse manure I got earlier in the week, as well as some compost. I then dug out the barberry. I was unable to get a solid root ball. This looks to be a very shallow rooted plant.


After planting - hopefully it is now in a better home -

Next up is Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko', a low growing (2') shrub that spreads outward. Again, bad positioning on my part. The plant was located in the terrace area, underneath the 'Wolf's Eyes' dogwood and completely blocked in front by a hebe.

Again, very shallow rooted -

This one too is going to the front border closer to the edge so that nothing will block it from view -

Of course, keeping it watered well is a must after moving any plant. We are not expected to get any significant rain for several days. Therefore, I've been watering daily and also saturating the leaves of the barberry just in case. We had some harsh east winds the day after I moved the plants and they can really suck out the moisture. 

More transplaning on the way...

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. I move stuff around a lot too. Gene thinks I’m nuts, but why would I leave something where I don’t like it or it’s not doing well?

    I swear though, I and stare and think and still plant something in the wrong place half the time. Cannot seem to resist the urge to plant things too close together either.

    Btw the Alabama snow wreath you sent several years ago is doing well and thriving under my vitex tree! Thanks again.

    1. Same here! I forgot about the snow wreath. I'm so happy to hear that it is doing well. I've never seen that plant out here. I wonder if it would do well?

  2. You must know all gardeners run into puzzle pieces that don't fit. Though unlike a puzzle, some of the pieces fit for a while, and then the garden canvas changes, plants grow and we move things around or get rid of things we no longer like or want. I am really looking forward to seeing both plants next year, showing up and showing off.

  3. I like the concept of the garden as a jigsaw puzzle. I buy way too many plants on a whim only to struggle to find a place to cram them. Best wishes with your transplant operation.

  4. I am a major transplanter too. I feel your pain. I hope all grows well. The manura will definitely encourage plants along.


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