How to - Techniques

Three transplanting techniques

Karen York
Photography by
Emilie Simpson (illustrations)

Moving plants is one of the rites of spring; play horticultural musical chairs without skipping a beat

transplanting-perennials.jpgTechnique #2: Transplanting perennials
Move these guys when they are just emerging; once they’re blooming, it’s better to wait till fall or next spring. Perennials that don’t transplant well are generally those with taproots, including baptisia, lupin, sea holly (Eryngium spp.), gas plant (Dictamnus spp.), baby’s breath (Gypsophila spp.) and milkweed (Asclepias spp.). I’ve found that other perennials said to resent disturbance, such as peonies and hellebores, tolerate being moved as long as the root ball stays intact and is replanted quickly. That said, a large specimen might take a bit more time to recover than a small one.

Using a sharp spade, dig around the plant, getting a generous root ball. Don’t worry if a few roots are sliced off. Gently pry up the plant and whisk it off to its new home. The new hole should be the same depth as the root ball but twice as wide. Firm the soil around the plant, then water and mulch well.

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