The Q&A Archives: Relocating Plerennials

Question: We are moving in early April and I want to dig my perennial garden and take it with me. Do I need to pot each plant or can I do a bare root move. The plants are several years old and I don't want to start over with immature plants.<br>How much timewould I have before I would need to set the plants into the soil at the new location.

Answer: Plants should really only be transported in the bare-root stage while they are dormant, yours won't be dormant in April. If you are going to get them in the ground really, really fast after the move, you could dig the plants up, leave some soil (not much) intact, wrap the roots (and only the roots) in some sphagnum moss you have soaked in water overnight, wrap the moss in wet newspaper, wrap the newspaper in plastic wrap. Pack in a box very carefully and loosely. The box should stay cool and dark. The plants should not stay in this state if it is going to be more than 24 hours before you can put them in the ground. I think the better option would be to plant the perennials in nursery pots. It really isn't much more trouble than the root wrapping. You can almost always buy used plastic nursery pots from garden centers and greenhouses at a pretty cheap rate (5 to 10 cents each where I live). If you go this route, clean the pots out first with a mixture of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. They can stay in these pots for a little while longer than the bare root plan if you keep them in a cool, shaded area (like a garage). Even with this route, I would get them in the ground as soon as possible. If they were my plants, I would plant them within three days. A few things to remember...this will be stressful to the plants. They may look kind of pathetic for a little while until they adjust to their new site. Give them a chance, they may look like they are dying for a day or two but they probably arent'. I have seen plants in similar situations look very, very dead and it came back to life with a little TLC. Be sure to keep them well watered. It is also a good idea to work some organic matter such as compost into their new planting bed, this makes them "feel better". Also, I don't know where you are moving to, but if it is out of state consider checking state guidelines on bringing plant life in. Some states, California is a good example, are very "picky" about what they allow in the state. You would be surprised but there are some garden plants and trees that are actually illegal in some states!

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