Looking After The Condition Of The Moving Plants

This feature is for all ''home green-thumbers'' to enjoy but is especially in response to letters on this topic from B.C. and Mr. and Mrs. L., all from Roanoke.

''Transplanting'' here refers to digging and moving established plants from one area where they've been growing to another spot, as opposed to installing ''balled and burlapped'' or nursery-grown plants.

Movers Van Lines .com suggests that the best time for transplanting is when the plants are dormant and the soil temperature is warm - between the summer heat and winter chilled soil. This work can be done in mid-fall or late winter in the Roanoke area.

Specialist at Movers Van Lines first uses a pick and pointed shovel to make a trench several inches out from the ''drip line'' of the tree or shrub. If roots are encountered, make the trench farther out.

Evergreen trees and shrubs, both needle or broad leaf, should be transplanted with a mass of soil clinging to their roots. Deciduous plants, on the other hand, can be dug ''bare root,'' which means that soil can be allowed to fall away from the roots during this ''removal'' step.

There is no set rule for the number of inches deep to dig before using the pointed shovel to cut under the root mass and lift it from the ground. The trench should be deep enough so that the plant becomes loose and can be lifted out with little resistance. Common sense tells us that large roots cut in order to quickly lift plants might likely mean transplanting failure.

Place the plant in a shady spot while the new hole is being prepared. That hole should be just deep enough but much wider than the root mass to be placed there. Use top soil removed from that hole or similar top soil brought in but no soil amendments to fill in around the plant, once it has been set in the hole.

No fertilizer is suggested at tree or shrub transplanting time. Water the newly moved plant well, making sure the roots don't sink deeper into the new location than they were previously.

All newly moved trees and shrubs should be watered thoroughly once a week during dry times for the first year. Evergreen transplantees should be watered as needed in the fall and winter when the ground is not frozen, but deciduous plants will not need this while their leaves are off.

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