Fall is the season when most gardeners think of tidying up and ending the growing year. While those are good things to do, this is also the perfect time to transplant perennials, shrubs, and trees. Plants that are moved now will have all winter to reestablish their roots before the spring growing frenzy hits. Another advantage to transplanting now is that the cooler temperatures will reduce the stress to a plant that has had its roots disturbed. Here are some things you might want to do this fall.
- Have you got a shrub that is too close to a fence or sidewalk? Dig it up and move it away from the obstruction for a happier plant and a happier you.
- Many perennials will eventually die out in the center, leaving you with a ring of healthy plants. When this happens, dig it up, remove the dead parts and replant the sections of the parent plant. In spring it will fill in and have more vigorous growth.
- Think back to the summer. Did you have a plant that got waaay too much sun? Move it to a more shady spot. Ditto on plants growing in the shade that needed more sun.
- A landscaping rule we sometimes forget when planting new herbs is the Group Photo Rule – place the short ones in front and the tall ones in back. Otherwise you find yourself with a tall guy in the front and some shorter plant in the back you can’t see as well. If this has happened to you (as it surely has to me) now’s the time to fix it.
For all the plants you plan to move, take time to give them a good soaking a day or two before you dig them up. This will help them weather the shock of transplanting. As you start to cut down into the soil be sure to dig in a circle wide enough to encompass the main root ball. How large that is varies from plant to plant but a good rule of thumb is to create a circle as wide as the plant itself. Dig down first, then in under the root ball The more of the original roots you preserve with the plant, the faster it will recover in its new home.
For the next step dig a hole in the plant’s new home deep enough to keep the bas of the main trunk above the soil line and wide enough to allow the roots room to grow. Position the plant in the new hole and gently tamp down the soil as you return it to the hole. If the central crown is below the soil level pull it back up and reposition.
Finish the job by watering to settle the soil and scattering a couple inches of mulch around the plant. The mulch will help hold in moisture and provide a slow-release fertilizer.
Fall transplanting is the secret weapon of experienced gardeners. It’s when we make corrections in the year’s garden so that next spring, everything’s ready to take off. So get out your shovel now and make a few changes for a great garden next growing season.