The Q&A Archives: Transplanting dogwoods

Question: Could I get some tips on transplanting some native dogwoods to one of my garden beds? I have planted a sapling before but had very little success.

Answer: Late spring and summer is a really risky time to try to transplant your dogwood. The loss of roots on such a large plant is very stressful. Combine this with the heat of summer and your chances of success are very low. November would be a better time, as it would allow the tree some time to settle in and begin root growth before the onset of warm weather.

When you dig the tree, get as much of the roots as possible. The more the better. Try to get a small seedling. The shock of transplanting due to loss of roots seems to be less devastating to smaller trees.

Experts debate the advantage of cutting back the top, but I think that on a dogwood I would not cut the top back as they really don't like being pruned. Dig the new hole only as deep as the plant's root system, wider is okay.

I wouldn't amend the soil with anything. Your native soil is fine. Don't put fertilizer in the planting hole. The plant will be trying to establish a new root system, and additional nutrients are not needed until new roots are established.

Water the plant in well after planting and keep moist but not soggy this first season.

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