Trans­plant op­er­a­tion

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Peter Cun­dall

ONE job I carry out reg­u­larly in the mid­dle of win­ter is trans­plant­ing trees and shrubs. De­cid­u­ous plants can only be safely moved dur­ing win­ter dor­mancy. Un­like ev­er­greens, th­ese plants are best lifted bare- rooted.

With es­tab­lished plants, this means sev­er­ing outer roots. Af­ter the plants are lifted, all soil can then be shaken off and any dam­aged root ends trimmed to clean cuts.

The bare roots can be spread widely in the new plant­ing holes.

If roots are cut back hard, most branches must also be pruned to restore bal­ance. If this is not done, the plant may fail to grow, or even die, dur­ing sum­mer.

Rose bushes are eas­ily moved in July, but prune them very hard first. Most quickly re­cover af­ter trans­plant­ing. Old- fash­ioned and shrub roses that flower only once will fail to bloom this year.

All need a firm stak­ing af­ter be­ing moved to pre­vent suck­er­ing caused by wind- rock.

Old es­tab­lished rose bushes are more dif­fi­cult and of­ten sulk and fail to thrive af­ter be­ing trans­planted. This can be a prob­lem with those of deep sen­ti­men­tal value.

As a pre­cau­tion against fail­ure, it is wise to also take as many short, hard­wood cut­tings of the youngest wood as pos­si­ble and in­sert them in sandy soil in a semi- shaded spot.

Some trees and shrubs are so eas­ily trans­planted they can be lifted and moved to new lo­ca­tions at any time of the year.

Among this group are rhodo­den­drons, aza­leas, camel­lias, many conifers and even cit­rus trees. The rea­son why they can be lifted with min­i­mum shock is be­cause all have tight, com­pact root balls.

Eas­i­est of all are rhodo­den­drons – even old ones can be moved. It makes good sense to choose the coolest part of the year to do the job. Af­ter a win­ter move, the cool, moist soil en­sures they quickly set­tle in.

Last win­ter I de­cided to trans­plant one of our Ja­panese camel­lias. It had been grow­ing in one spot for years but was be­com­ing over­crowded by larger trees. Growth and flow­er­ing had vir­tu­ally stopped due to lack of light.

The leaves, an im­por­tant part of the at­trac­tive­ness of camel­lias, were no longer glossy but ap­peared dull and life­less. An ad­di­tional prob­lem was root com­pe­ti­tion from the trees.

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