The Q&A Archives: transplanting tree

Question: this past year we purchased a WHITESPIRE WHITE BIRCH (note it was in a pot opposed to balled)which we planted about may 30. its growing fine, but i am thinking that we may want to move it up to 30 ft from current location. it has three trunks and is about 7 feet tall. how dangerous is transplanting to the life of the tree, and is it too late this fall or in spring of 2007?


Answer: There is always a certain amount of risk when moving a tree, especially if it is already stressed for some reason. It is better to move it sooner rather than allow it longer time to become rooted and thus have to re-root all over again. This would actually be a good time to try to move it. Water it thoroughly the day before you dig it up so it is well hydrated. Prepare the new planting hole before you dig up the tree to minimize the time it is out of the ground. When you dig it, take as much of the root system as possible. Remember that it will have expanded wider than it was when you planted the tree, so begin digging several feet out from the trunk. Take care to avoid damaging the bark as you work and be prepared for it to be very heavy; you may want to put it on a tarp to drag it to the new location. Replant it immediately at the same depth as it grew before and water thoroughly to settle air pockets and saturate the soil. Then water as needed to keep the soil evenly moist until the soil freezes this fall. It may defoliate in response to being moved, but be patient and wait for next spring for it to leaf out again. Next spring and summer, continue to water thoroughly as needed to keep that soil moist. Watering is the most important thing you can do. When you water, be sure to water slowly and thoroughly so it can soak down to the deepest roots. To know if you need to water, dig into the soil with your finger and feel it. Using a layer of organic mulch two to three inches thick year round will help keep the soil evenly moist and will also help feed the soil slowly over time as it breaks down. Do not fertilize it when you replant this fall. The best location for it would be in soil that is acidic, organic, and naturally moist. Good luck with the move!

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