The Q&A Archives: azaleas

Question: Can I safely transplant old azalea plants (30 + years old) out of one part of my yard into another area? The deer are eating the young branches and I want to get them closer to the house. There are 3 of them, the largest is about 5 feet across, by 4 feet tall. Thanks.

Answer: Azaleas can be transplanted, but it is a huge job when the plants are so large. The best time of year to do it would be very early spring before they start to grow or else in late summer/early fall. (June/July/Aug. would be the most stressful time of year to move them.)

Water thoroughly the day before you move them. Prepare the new planting area before you dig them. Dig them up taking as much of the roots as you possibly can. Azaleas are usually shallow rooted (maybe six inches or so) but also very wide rooted, out beyond the branch tips. One you dig it, the rootball will be heavy so plan on help to raise it out of the hole. Use a tarp or dolly to move it to the new location.

Replant at the same depth as it grew before, or a half inch higher, and turned or oriented in the same direction as it was originally. If you leave a lot of roots behind you would also trim it back proportionately. (Fall pruning is to be avoided on azaleas as it can stimulate late season growth which then can contribute to excessive winter damage.)

Water thoroughly to settle any air pockets, then water as needed to keep the soil damp like a wrung out sponge until it freezes. Use you rfinger to dig into the soil to see if you need to water. Also mulch with an organic mulch such as pine bark or pine fines to a depth of two to three inches at most, spread it out over the entire root area in a flat layer. Do not allow it to touch the trunk or stems.

Good luck with the move!

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