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springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
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Frillylily
Apr 11, 2014 3:48 PM CST
When is the best time of the year to transplant an old fashioned lilac? I think it may be too late for my area? They are starting to get leaves on them now.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Apr 25, 2014 7:26 AM CST
I would do it right after blooming. They are tough, should go well. I've moved them around during spring, summer, fall, when I was in OH. If the roots aren't disturbed much, it probably won't even wilt. A lawn chair to shade the roots could help for the first few days if you think that's necessary. How big is it?
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springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Apr 25, 2014 8:13 AM CST
They are just small starts. Not very big at all. I was thinking woody shrubs should be transplanted in the winter when they are dormant?
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Apr 26, 2014 6:35 AM CST
"They" always have very specific instructions for everything, even though everyone knows there's not 1 right way to do anything regarding gardening. I think a lot of it is developed for/by landscapers who won't be around later to check on things, water if a hot day dries something out.

I don't want to get all cold and wet transplanting anything, and wouldn't want to do it at a time when I'm not going outside often to check it. Dormant plants are always a mystery, like, "Is it really still alive?" Why spend time on them during their time of mystery? How can you tell if it's going well if you check on it a week later? I think it's much more important how it's done than when, and I move plants around all summer because that's when I'm most actively involved in monitoring their progress, and interested in doing such things. This particular instruction has always seemed wrong to me anyway. If dormancy is a period of rest, why disturb that? How would you feel if you woke up somewhere different than where you fell asleep? Probably a stupid question, but I'm a human, so can't think in plant terms no matter how much I might want to. But I know that if a plant needs care from me and I never check on it because the weather's icky, that's not good.

There's also the drainage issue that confuses me. Disturbing the soil temporarily wrecks the drainage. When it's cold and wet, that's the most crucial time to have good drainage. Just seems like asking for more trouble to me, this particular instruction of digging around the garden over winter.

In conjunction with how I garden, this is how I do things. Moving something while dormant might be the best thing for others, who do things differently. Hope my explanation helps those reading recognize which best matches their style and schedule, and personal beliefs. Someone else may chime in saying they lose anything they try to transplant in summer.

Since you know the instruction but are here asking about this anyway, do you feel the same way and just want encouragement to try?

The smaller something is, the easier it is to move without disturbing its' roots much, if at all. And confidence is at least half the battle. If you do the exact same thing with and without confidence, the confident one will always do better. The power of positive thinking is amazing!

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springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Apr 26, 2014 8:18 AM CST
well since they were starting to get leaves I figured it would be too late to move them, but wasn't sure if other people had success with moving them later. I do think if I dug them without disturbing too much root they may do ok anyway since they are not very large. But you are right, I break the rules all the time Smiling
Name: Tom Cagle
SE-OH (Zone 6a)
Old, fat, and gardening in OH
Coppice
Apr 26, 2014 9:51 AM CST
Frillylily said:They are just small starts. Not very big at all. I was thinking woody shrubs should be transplanted in the winter when they are dormant?


If you were going to plant 'n' run, without a way to get back to a tree to water, I might wait till autumn to plant.

If these lilac are specimen shrubs in your yard (and you plan to water them), planting in the spring works fine.

Name: Val
Ohio (Zone 5b)
Charter ATP Member Cat Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Ohio
Val
Apr 26, 2014 12:39 PM CST
I've moved and planted lilacs after leafing and they were fine. I got as much soil as possible and kept watered. I can get away with it in the spring but I have problems in the summer when it's hot and our clay soil dries out.

Since lilacs bloom on old wood (I think), I would guess that moving them before they start to make next year's blooms would be a good thing.
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
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eclayne
May 6, 2014 12:17 PM CST

Plants Admin

I agree with everyone Frilly. I've transplanted plenty of deciduous shrubs at the "wrong" time of the year. Just make sure they get enough water and you get enough roots.
Evan

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