How do I transplant plants in the garden and minimize losses?
Late autumn and late winter are terrific times to move established plants that you may want to reposition or give to a friend. Moving plants in hot, dry or windy weather is to be avoided if possible. The first step is to trim the plant back to lessen the plant’s demand for water after transplanting. The amount you trim will depend on the species so it is best to check in a reliable gardening book as to how severely you can prune before going crazy with the secateurs.
Prepare the new hole before digging the plant, and dig as large an area as you can to loosen the soil around where the plant’s roots will be. The more soil you loosen, the better chance the plant will have to grow into the new spot later.
It is a good idea to wait for a rainy period so that the soil will be damp but not too wet, which will help the soil to not fall apart from the root ball. Dig a trench all around the plant, taking as large a root ball as possible. The aim is to retain as much soil as possible around the roots, to minimize disturbance.
Once you know how big your root ball is, you can prepare the right sized hole, so that you can place your plant straight in. Make sure the soil level is the same as the original level. Once you have your plant in it’s new place, fill the soil in around the root ball. Watering in is most important after planting, as this helps the soil to enter into any air pockets around the roots.
A product called Stressguard can be sprayed onto the foliage to reduce water loss from the foliage while the root system recovers. Seaweed extracts such as Seasol contain root promoting hormones, which will help to stimulate new root growth, but always follow the instructions on the pack.