The Q&A Archives: Transplant Japanese Maple

Question: I hand delivered a baby Japanese Maple from Washington state to California 4 yrs ago and have tenderly cared for this magnificant maple. The problem is I need to move it out of a smaller gargen. When is the best time to do this? and what is the best technique for doing this. Thank you, Lorraine Jones

Answer: What a treasure! It's best to move your maple in the winter (December, January) when it is dormant. Expect the roots to be in the top 12-18 inches of soil and extend out past the longest branches. It's okay to sever some of the smaller feeder roots but you'll want to keep the majority of the root system intact when you dig and move your tree. I find that soaking the soil the night before the move makes for easier digging and less injury to the roots. You'll just need to dig carefully and replant as quickly as possible so the roots won't dry out during the move. Make sure it will be sitting at the same soil level as it was growing before, and water it well after the move to help settle the soil and remove any air pockets. You won't know until it leafs out in spring, but I suspect it will suffer no transplant shock if you move it during the winter months. Best wishes with the move!

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