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Moving Your Gardens to a New Home

July 8, 2011

“Moving” your Gardens to a New Home

by Rick Pecman

Your Local Realtor & Horticulturalist


        A special “Peony” given to you by your grandmother, those hard to find “Hostas”, a unique dwarf Japanese Maple,  that special birthday “Hydrangea”, your highly prized “Hybrid Tea Rose”, they’re no different than an heirloom silver tea set, a special birthday photo album, or a cherished anniversary ring.

      These are items that you don’t want to leave behind when it comes time to move to a new home or even to that new condominium.  The tea set, wall pictures, and photo albums are quite easy to move and little pre-planning are needed in the packing and moving associated with most household items.  Outdoor live plants that have a sentimental value and you’d like to bring to your next home, or pass on to a relative or friend  requires some thought in the removal, storage, care and re-planting.   Most plants can be moved successfully unless their size becomes an issue (economically, size and age).

Below are a few factors to consider when planning to move plants:

1) What time of year will the move occur; Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter?

Each season brings its own challenge when moving plants.  If you’re moving during the winter months and the ground is frozen you will not be able to dig up your plants. Pre-planning and digging up your plants in the late fall and storing them in the garage or shed, with protection to the pots/burlap/roots  - should increase the success rate.  They should be watered well until freeze up so the ball/root section stays frozen.  If you’re planning to move in the middle of the summer, plants you want to bring should be dug up and potted by early spring, and maintained in the pot until the move occurs....

2) Can I remove these Plants!!  If the plants have been removed from the gardens before your home was listed and set aside a simple explanation that these are heritage plants you will be taking to your new home will suffice.  If the plants are still in your gardens when your home is listed and shown to potential buyers, you will have to make specific notes in an “exclusion” clause as to what plants will be removed from the gardens, so there is no surprise on closing day when the new homeowner arrives (that’s a good idea for all garden accents, such as; fountains, benches, bbq & arbors, too).


3) How do I dig & store these plants?   The ideal time to dig most plants are in the early spring or late fall.  Peonies have the best success when dug in the late fall.  Digging the plants in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler and less evaporation from the midday sun will increase the success rate of your newly dug plants.  The root system of most of your established plants in the gardens are proportional to the size of the crown or top of the plant. When digging up your plants, try to dig up as large a root ball as possible (if you’ve had to cut & leave a large portion of the root system in the ground, then pruning/trimming the top portion of the plant will be needed to put the roots & top into a balanced state).  Have a good supply of various sizes of fiber pots on hand when you begin your transplant session.  Have a large bag of loose grow mix soil, some transplant fertilizer and a few bags of triple mix soil on hand when you begin your digging & potting.  Once the plant is dug, determine the suitable sized pots for the root system. Put some triple mix soil in the bottom of the pot, put the root system in the pot, use the grow mix soil around the sides and add some triple mix to the top..lift and bang the pot to get the air pockets out, add a bit more triple mix soil, water and let sit for 15 minutes, then top up again with triple mix soil. Make sure the soil level is about 1-2” from the lip to allow for watering. Mix up a solution of transplant fertilizer and give the plant a few litres.  Store this newly potted plant in a shady spot for 2 days, watering as needed (do not over water).  After a few days the plant can be moved & stored in a semi-sunny location, watered regularly (every 1-2 days), and fertilized with the transplant solution once every 2 weeks. 

   If you’re not sure on what procedure to use for perennials, shrubs, evergreens, mini-trees, small fruits.. make a list of the plants you will be digging up and the time of year, and bring it in to your local garden center for proper advise on each species..ps. photos help !!


4) How long can they stay in the pot??  In many cases, if properly potted, fertilized, watered and winter protected you can successfully keep these plants in a pot for 1-2 years !!!

    Moving most plants is quite simple, water them a few hours before loading them into your moving vehicle, and tie up branches with string or stretch tie to prevent branches from breaking. If transporting trees in the bed of a pick-up truck, cover the foliage with a tarp during transport to prevent moisture from being evaporated from the leaves and adding stress to the trees… If your new gardens aren’t quite ready for planting or you’re tight for time, simply place the plants in a shady or semi-shady area and water every 1-3 days depending on the pot size and weather condition..




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