How to Transplant Nursery Plants and Trees

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How to Transplant Nursery Plants and Trees Into your Garden

How to Transplant Nursery Plants and Trees Into your GardenHow to Transplant Nursery Plants Into your Garden

People are constantly looking for ways to save money and have fun at the same time. One great way to do this is to create hobbies that will save you money in the long run. Growing herbs in your home can be a great activity that can be rewarding while saving you money at the same time. Obviously, growing plants and herbs in your home will require some space and require you to expand your garden as the plants grow and get bigger. This may be difficult, especially if you are not sure how to transplant nursery plants into the ground or into larger containers.

There are several tips that you should focus on when you are trying to transplant your plants into a different location. The first thing that you will want to take into consideration is when you should transplant your plants. If you’re planting in the ground and you live in an area where all of the seasons are present, you will want to transplant your plants in the early to mid-spring, after the soil has thawed and softened. If the early spring is not an option, the next best time is during the late fall. By doing the transplant at this time, you will be able to avoid shocking the plant and have a much higher success rate. Transplanting in containers can be done year-round indoors or outdoors in areas of a mild climate, and indoors in areas of the harsh climate.

Time to Transplant your Plant from Nursery Plants

The next thing that you will need to consider is the time it will take you to transplant your plant. With small plants, this will be much easier but larger plants will be more of a challenge. The roots of a plant are very sensitive and can be damaged easily. The shorter amount of time that the roots are exposed means a lower chance for shocking the plant. This will keep the plant healthy so it will continue to produce and live healthily. Keep in mind that it’s always best to transplant outdoors in cloudy weather toward the evening rather than when it’s sunny and in the morning.

Don’t Miss Plant from the Original Container

When transplanting, gently remove the plant from the original container. If the roots have begun growing up the side, gently loosen the soil with your fingers, making sure the soil stays in contact with the roots and that the roots are exposed to the air for a minimal amount of time as possible, then place in the new container so they will grow properly. Add enough soil to completely cover the roots and water immediately. Mixing in some vitamin B1 plant starter will also help reduce shock to the plant.

Different Tools before you Start the Transplant of your Nursery Plants

You may need to get several different garden tools before you start the transplant of your nursery plants. The place is the most important thing that you need to consider. Make sure that you have a place in your or a pot large enough to place your plant. You will also need a spade or shovel, depending on the size of the plant, pruners, and something to transport the plant. Once you get the plant into its new home, you will want to ensure that the soil is healthy and can sustain life. This means a good supply of water and nutrients. You may want to get fertilizer in the soil so the plant will have nutrients right away. There are many more tips that are available on the Internet for people who are looking to transplant their plants and herbs.

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Now is the Time to Transplant

If you plan to add new trees and shrubs to your landscape, now is the time to transplant them into your landscape. Transplanting in the spring allows your plants time to send out new roots and get established before the summer heat arrives. By transplanting them now and keeping them well watered, your new plants should be able to survive the upcoming hot summer.

When transplanting trees or shrubs, dig a hole that is 3-5 wider than the root ball. The hole should be dug NO deeper than the root ball. If the root ball is wrapped in burlap, try to remove as much of the burlap as possible. Burlap left exposed on top of the soil will wick out water from the root zone. Amend the soil as needed, fill in the hole, and add mulch around the plant.

Plants should be watered thoroughly after planting — daily for the first week, every 2 days for the next 4-6 weeks and once a week for the next 7-12 weeks. Make sure the soil is kept moist, NOT WET.

Tip to Get Free Plants with Layering

FREE PLANTS! No, the local nursery isn’t giving away free plants – its propagation, the easiest way to get free plants from yourself, and even from a few of your good friends.

Fall is a good time to think about propagating shrubs by a technique called layering. Layering allows for the formation of new roots on a young plant before it is removed from the mother plant (allowing the new plant to receive nutrients from the mother plant while forming roots). While there are several layering techniques, the easiest is simple layering (hence the name). The technique involves selecting a branch that can easily be bent to the ground, wounding the branch on the side closest to the ground, and burying it in the ground.

To layer, a branch, start by selecting a low-lying branch on the shrub you wish to propagate. Make sure this branch is easily worked, bendable (without breaking), and low to the ground. Dig a hole about 3-4 inches deep and enrich the soil with an organic matter where the branch will be buried. Wound the branch by making a slanted 2-inch cut on the underside of the branch.

This wound should be about 8-12 inches from the branch tip and lay in the center of the burying hole. Next, secure the branch in the hole with a peg or bent wire so that the branch stays in the hole. Cover the branch with soil, firmly packed, and water to moisten the soil. Water frequently so that the soil stays moist (but not wet).

Check the branch in 3 to 4 weeks to see if roots have formed. Some species may take up to a year to root, so check regularly. Once roots have formed, cut the branch BEHIND the roots, transplant into a container or another location, and enjoy your free plant.

Transplanting Trees

State Certified Landscape Nursery Trees

Tree Planting is Heavy Work

Transplanting larger trees is best left to professionals with a crew of ‘strong backs.’ Why is that? Because for every one inch of tree trunk diameter, the root ball requires one foot of earth ball diameter. Therefore, a 3-inch caliper tree requires a 36-inch diameter ball, which weighs approximately 1100 lbs. (over half a ton).

Root Pruning

An important factor in transplanting success is root pruning. Nursery grown trees have often been root pruned during their juvenile years, to condense their root systems into a more compact area, making their transplant more successful. Root systems that have never been root pruned tend to be more widespread, and have more roots left behind when they are dug, decreasing their chance of survival.

When to Transplant Trees

The most important factor in transplanting trees is moving them at the right time of year. Most deciduous trees are transplanted during their dormant season when leaves are off the tree, spring, or fall.

Fall – Once there are a couple of hard freezes (temps below 32-degrees F), leaves are dropping, and the tree is entering dormancy.

Spring – Once deep frost has left the soil, but before the tree breaks bud and begins to leaf out.

“Spring Only” Tree Transplants

The old rule of thumb is to only transplant ‘fleshy rooted’ plants and oaks in the spring. While fall transplants may succeed with special care, below is a list of trees best transplanted in the spring.

GenusCommon Name
BetulaBirch
CercisRedbud
CornusDogwood
CraetegusHawthorn
LiriodendronTulip Tree
LiquidambarSweetgum
MagnoliaMagnolia
OxydendronSourgum
PlatanusSycamore
PopulusPoplar
PrunusPlum
PyrusPear
QuercusOak
SalixWillow
ZelkovaZelkova

Watering a Transplanted Tree

Water trees thoroughly once a week if there is less than one inch of rainfall per week.*

Water should be applied slowly and repeatedly to give it time to soak in. Move your hose around the base of the tree to completely water all areas of the root zone (moving the hose around is important since water tends to travel straight down).

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The best time of day to water is morning. If plant foliage remains wet overnight, it provides an ideal environment for fungi.

Monitor your tree for any signs of water stress such as wilting.

Plants will need more frequent watering when they are actively growing than when they are dormant.

*On occasion, you’ll plant trees in hard, compacted clay, usually in new neighborhoods or condominium plans. In this situation, extend your watering intervals to once every two weeks for larger trees, since this kind of planting hole can act like a bathtub, holding water for a long time and suffocating the tree roots.


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