Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > September 2016 > IN THE DIRT with DOUG - AVOIDING TRANSPLANT SHOCK


“FALL IS FOR PLANTING” season is here.  Let’s do our best when it comes to the planting of new shrubs and trees.  Plants bought from our garden center, or any garden center, and taken home to be planted will naturally go through a shock.  Transplanting (moving a plant to a new location) is disruptive to a plant’s growing cycle, as it must adjust to new soil, light as well as different moisture and nutrient levels.  It only makes sense if you think about it.  Transplant shock presents itself in a number of ways.  With many plants, a common symptom is the drooping or browning of leaves.
                Here are some simple tips to use to reduce transplant shock, and ensure a healthy plant for years to come:
  1.  Keep the new plants well watered while still in their containers.  You may not realize that plants in a garden center are watered daily.  Plants dry out very fast when in plastic containers sitting up out of ground.
  2. Be ready to plant as soon as possible.  Be sure to loosen the root system before you plant.  The roots can be very matted and growing in a circle inside the pot.  By loosening the root system , the roots will begin to grow outward.
  3. Amend the existing soil with some good organic matter.  Most of us in Central Virginia have clay soil.  Clay soil is good in that it holds nutrients.  But, we should add some organic soil to the clay at the time of planting.
  4. Dig a hole that is twice the size in diameter.  It is more important to dig a wider hole than needed than it is to dig a deeper hole.
  5. Have the planting depth where the plant is slightly mounding out of the hole.  This will help to ensure that you don't plant it too deep.
  6. We encourage all our customers to use ESPOMA BIO-TONE with every new plant.  Bio-Tone is a starter plant food.  Bio-Tone helps to prevent transplant loss and ensure superior plant growth.  You sprinkle Bio-Tone in the hole and have this product be touching the root system.  It helps to promote bigger and healthier root system for all shrubs, trees, perennials, and annuals.
  7. Water your new plantings when you plant.  The weight of the water will help compress the soil down around the root system.
  8. Be sure to water your new plantings frequently.  New plants often do not have an extensive root system, and can’t take advantage of rainfall like older plants, so be sure to check for needed watering even if it did recently rain!
  9. Adding a layer of mulch around the new plants will serve two different purposes.  First, a layer of mulch will help to shade and cool the root system.  Secondly, the mulch will keep the new plant moist longer between waterings.
As for wanting to dig up and relocate existing plants in your landscape – I would recommend waiting, if possible, until we cool down more and we have more rainfall.  So, hopefully, by the end of the month would be a good time to start. 
Sometimes waiting until the plant goes dormant for the growing season is the best time to dig and relocate any plant.  The key to success is getting as much of the existing root system as possible.  Be sure to water the plant well before digging.  If you know a plant needs to be moved, it is not a bad practice to take a spade shovel and dig down around the plant to begin the transplanting process.  Leave the plant where it is until it is time to move the plant.  Be sure to keep the rootball intact throughout the relocation process.  Another good practice is to have the new hole prepped and ready beforehand.  This way the plant’s exposed rootball will have very little time exposed to any drying air. 
Happy Gardening
Posted: 9/13/2016 by Doug Hensel | with 1 comment(s)
Evelyn Simeon
Doug, really appreciate your precise steps for replanting/transplanting ... just the advice I was looking for. Thank you!
9/16/2016 12:33:38 AM

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