The Q&A Archives: Transplanting a Dwarf Blue Artic Willow

Question: Our friend gave us her Dwarf Artic Blue Willow. How far and wide around the root base should we dig? Is it ok to transplant? What do you recommend?
Thank you so much!

Answer: A Dwarf Blue Arctic Willow will grow only 3-4' tall and wide at maturity so it should be easy to transplant. (Spring is the best time, followed by transplanting in winter.) Most shrubs concentrate their roots in the top 12" of soil and they extend out about as far as the dripline. Start digging at the dripline. If there are very few roots out that far, move in toward the center of the plant. It's better to dig a generous hole than to sever half the root system by digging too close to the main stem. You'll be able to tell once you begin digging. It's okay to cut a few roots but you'll want to keep the rootmass intact as much as possible to avoid stressing the plant. I find digging is easier if I soak the area first so water the willow well the night before you plan to dig it. When you've gotten it out of the ground, wrap the roots to keep them from drying out while you're digging the new hole. Dig a hole just as deep and only a little wider than the root mass; place a little mound of soil at the bottom and drape the roots in a natural fashion over the mound of soil. Then fill in around the roots and gently tamp down. Water the newly planted shrub to help settle the soil then water deeply once each week to help the roots become established in their new home. Enjoy your new plant!

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