The Q&A Archives: Transplanting

Question: I have two small Japanese Red Maples each about 4 1/2 feet tall with a 1 1/4 inch trunk. They are off-spring from a larger tree purchased at H.D. several years ago. Their location does not favor their continued growth and I must move them to a new location. What size root ball should I allow in this process i.e. diameter and depth. Please advise.

Answer: If the plants in question are suckering growth from your original Japanese Maple they are getting their nourishment from the same roots as the parent plant. You should be able to sever the root between the parent plant and the sucker by cutting down through the earth with a shovel. Cut down about 6-8 inches away from the trunk of the sucker (between the trunk and the parent plant) going all around to sever the roots. You should end up with about a one-gallon sized root mass which should be plenty for a 4 1/2 foot tall Japanese maple. Replant and expect some wilting until the new tree becomes established with its own root system. Late fall or early winter will improve your success rate. That's when the trees are dormant so the stress will be less, and when transplanted the new trees will have a few months of cool weather in which to establish their root systems before new top growth in the spring. Good luck with your project!

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