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.