The Q&A Archives: Transplanting 3 Yr Old Junipers And Comotose Azaleas

Question: we were over-zealous in planting three years ago and now have crowded shrubs...junipers have spread out, beautiful, but HUGE, and we also have two small azaleas "Coral Cascade" and neither are doing well in their area (four feet from foundation). I want to dig up these (2)junipers and the 2 azaleas this fall and plant in the rear of our property (edging the woodlands) to do this without shocking the daylights out of these shrubs?

Answer: Unfortunately, junipers are very difficult to transplant because of the root system they produce. I would not recommend trying to move them. Azaleas on the other hand are fairly amenable to it and it should be done in early fall or very early spring. Water the plant well the day before you move it, and prepare the new planting location ahead of time. To dig the azalea, keep in mind that it will have a wide but relatively shallow root system. Start digging at some distance outside the crown and work your way to the center of the shrub, trying to take the entire root ball. Slide it onto a tarp or plywood to move it and replant immediately no deeper than it grew originally. Remember that azaleas need an acid soil rich in humus or organic matter; it should be evenly moist yet well drained. Water it well and maintain several inches of organic mulch over the root zone year round. Make sure the soil is kept moist but not sopping wet. In contrast, junipers need a well drained soil and full sun to do their best but are quite tolerant of difficult locations such as those with poor soil or reflected heat from a building.

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