The Q&A Archives: Transplanting Barberry

Question: I'd like to move my barberry bush (Berberis thunbergii) to another location as it is now blocking my sprinkler. When is a good time to transplant? Is just set berries. Does this shrub have deep roots? spreading roots? What kind of soil does it like? Any additional tips?

Answer: Your Japanese Barberry will reach 6 feet in height with a 4-6 foot spread when it's mature, but you can shear it to keep it smaller. The plant will thrive in full sunshine and average soil, with very little water. If it's blocking your sprinkler, you'll be doing it a favor to move it to a drier location. The autumn months are especially good for transplanting trees and shrubs. The cooler air temperatures and natural rainfall helps plants make the transition without having to deal with summertime heat and drought. Expect the roots to be about one-foot deep and as wide as the branches extend out from the main stem(s) of the plant. It's better to dig too wide and too deep than to damage roots because you didn't expect them to be so far away from the original rootmass. Prepare the new planting hole before removing the shrub, and make sure it's planted at the same level as it was in its old location. The berries should remain on the stems - until the birds find and devour them.

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