Preparing to Move a Plant

Planning ahead can save you a lot of time and heartache when moving a plant.
Similar Topics:
Digging Up Root Ball on Perennial Plant

Digging Up Root Ball on Perennial Plant

Photo by: Image courtesy of Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Image courtesy of Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Planning to move a plant? You'll help ensure the success of the operation if you prepare the plant several months--even up to a year--before the actual move.

Why so far ahead? "Prepping a plant in advance is the most foolproof way to move a plant," says master gardener Paul James. That's especially true if you're creating a new garden bed and want to move plants from one location to another or if you're planning on moving and want to take some plants with you.

First, James recommends using his "rule of 18" to determine the ideal diameter of the root ball. Then, dig a six-inch-wide by 12-inch-deep trench around the base of the plant. Slice through the root of the plant as cleanly as possible with a sharp shovel. Finally, fill the trench halfway with compost or shredded leaves. This forces the plant to develop a greater concentration of roots within the root ball area. The area inside the trench, and that greater root mass--will help compensate for any roots lost during the trenching process. Over time, some roots will grow into the trench; just sever them with a shovel as they do--say, every month or so. When the plant is finally ready to be moved, all you need to do is use the normal digging process.

This prep technique works for virtually everything and anything that grows.

"Trust me, it's a lot harder than you think to actually hurt the plant in the process, especially if you do it at the right time and follow my suggestions," says James. "After all, I've moved almost 100 plants in my lifetime and they're all doing fine!"

Next Up

How to Plant Container-Grown Trees

Transfer a tree from its container with this step-by-step guide.

How to Transplant Perennials

Moving perennials is something many gardeners needlessly avoid. Your plants are much tougher than you think, says Peggy Huff, an expert on flowers and ornamental plants from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. 

How to Transplant a Shrub

If you decide that a shrub is in the wrong place, you can simply move it.

How to Prick Out Seedlings

Seedlings in trays become overcrowded quickly, leading to weak growth. To avoid this, “prick out” seedlings when they are large enough.

Plants on the Move

Master gardener Paul James gives tips on transplanting trees and shrubs.

Simple Layering Plant Shoots

This easy method can produce new plants within a few months.

Readers' Stories: Moving a Garden

When we asked you, our readers, to tell us about your experiences moving a garden, we were flooded with mail.

How to Plant Trees from Containers

Prepare your site by clearing it of weeds and, if you have very sandy or infertile soil, digging in organic matter over a wide area. 

How to Read a Plant Tag

Understand the marker that comes with your plant using this handy guide from HGTV Magazine .

How to Get the Most From Plant Retailers

Knowing your nursery staff can reap huge dividends for your garden.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.