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Planting and Transplanting bushes, shrubs and trees before winter.
September 16, 2012

Welcome to the Flying Butterfly!

This issue of The Flying Butterfly discusses those butterfly bushes, trees and shrubs that may need planting and transplanting before winter arrives.


Also take advantage of sales this time of year for great prices on butterfly bushes and plant them now. One online supplier with a large selection of butterfly bushes is: DirectGardening.com




Before winter starts this is a good time to stand back, look at your butterfly garden and landscape then consider trees and shrubs that may need to be transplanted. Unless it's a hedge, consider what mature tree
or shrub sizes will be 10-20 years in the future.


If there are currently shrubs crowded together in your garden, not spreading them out will require constant pruning. If not transplanted
when young a tree or shrub will be harder to move, yet difficult to ignore as they get older. Also, the smaller the shrub the greater it increases the success rate of survival after transplanting.


Shrubs, bushes and trees not only are functional, they offer a visual support to your property. They are tough by nature with a healthy tolerance for the elements and live for years. For example, butterfly bushes are pest free and deer resistant.




Fall is best time to plant and transplant trees before they go dormant in winter because:

  • Soil is still warm

  • Soil is not waterlogged, as with spring. Science isn't certain but thinks the balance of roots taking in enough water and winter coming on helps trees and shrubs to overcome transplant shock.

  • Trees and bushes without leaves make fewer demands on roots to provide nutrients. If there are still leaves - remove damaged, dying and diseased ones before planting or transplanting.

  • The goal is to let roots settle in about 6 weeks before the ground freezes.


For best results "root-pruning" one year before moving is preferred when transplanting bushes, shrubs and trees.

  • To root prune dig a trench around shrub 6" wide and about 2' deep.

  • If there are other shrubs around:

    • Trench 3-4' distance from small shrub

    • Trench 5-8' distant from larger shrub.

  • Fill trench with sphagnum moss. This helps plant to compact root system helping it's tolerance for move.

  • Prune shrub a few weeks before transplanting following year.


The most common method is:

  • Prune shrub a few weeks before transplanting. Remove leaves if
    they are ready to fall off.

  • Dig carefully around the 6 inch to 2 foot area. Use shovel or board to place shrub on top for move.

  • It can be sometimes recommended to put shrub in burlap and rest for a few weeks before replanting it. This is another method of transitioning plant with lowering potential shock.




Rule of thumb, bushes can be planted or
transplanted up until the first frost. The ultimate goal is to let roots settle for about 6 weeks before the ground freezes. Also recommended is to water newly planted and transplanted bushes well and apply pressure to eliminate air pockets.


*I have transplanted enough butterfly bushes and would recommend trying to get as much of roots as possible. Remove and transplant with care. Although they have all survived, the roots are delicate and
bushes really go into shock.


Unless leaves are ready to fall off
or are stressed, I prefer not to remove them. I did this with one bush
and the shock of both really took a toll. I prefer pruning in spring, regardless of if bush is transplanted or not.




On a final note...

Recently I interviewed Cahoon Nursery in Westlake Ohio. Stop in
and visit them. More information at their website: Cahoon Nursery.com



Happy Butterfly Gardening!


Elizabeth @ Easy Butterfly Garden



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