The Q&A Archives: Transplanting Evergreens

Question: I have three, eight foot tall evergreens that I need to move. Since the ground does not freeze here in the winter, can I move them now or should I wait until spring? Could you tell me the process of moving the shrubs, and what are the chances of survival for them?

Answer: Your evergreens can generally be transplanted anytime as long as the ground is not frozen. However, it is best to avoid periods when your trees are actively growing, i.e., in the spring when you see those new pale green shoots appearing. You also want to avoid transplanting on
summer days. I usually do my transplanting in the fall, mid-October to mid-November. By transplanting on an overcast day or in the early evening your transplants have a bit of a chance to process their new environment before having to absorb sunlight. Particularly windy days are also something to avoid, the wind will quickly dry out the roots. Be sure to dig your holes in the new area before you dig up the fir trees. The less time the roots are exposed to sun and air the better. Be sure to water the plants in well after moving. Many transplant failures are a result of not watering in well enough. If you water (or wait until rainfall) the day before the move, the soil will be easier to dig and you won't be as likely to injure roots in the process. Dig a generous hole, expecting the roots to be in the top 12" of soil, and extend about 1 1/2 times the outer reaches of the foliage. When transplanting, make sure the plants rest at the same soil level as they were in their old homes. Following the above guidelines should give you 100 percent success!

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