The Q&A Archives: Transplanting Mimosa Tree

Question: We are in the process of relocating to Chicago, Ill. from Long Island NY. We have a 5-6 foot tall mimosa tree that we would like to take with us.

What is the proper procedure for transplanting this tree? How much soil should be removed with the root system to ensure good health for this plant? Is there any special needs for this tree upon replanting it?

Answer: Unfortunately, in my experience this tree is very difficult to transplant because it has a very sparse root system and the soil falls away from it as soon as you try to dig the plant up. If you are determined to try it, simply trace along the root as best you can and take as long/large a piece as possible. Keep the root moist (you might wrap it in damp but not soaking wet newspaper and place that in a plastic bag left loosely open) and keep the plant itself cool but above freezing so that it stays dormant while in transport. Replant immediately, water in and and mulch well. You will probably need to stake the plant as well. Over the coming season keep the plant watered (the rule of thumb is an inch of water a week from you or the sky) while it becomes established. I would expect the soil to be frozen in midwinter so this may be very difficult to do. Instead, you might harvest some seedpods and take them with you to plant at your new location. I think this might be the best course because it is unlikely that your tree will be winterhardy in that area unless you can provide it with a very sheltered location out of the wind and in a warm microclimate. A temperature of 5 degreesF for any period of time can damage the tree, and a young or stressed tree is most susceptible to such damage. All the best if you decide to try it!

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