Friday, November 13, 2009

Can you successfully move a 30 year old rhododendron bush?

Well, stranger things have happened. As a landscape professional I would have to say no. However, what do you have to lose by trying?

If you are moving it to another location far from where it is now growing, again I'd say no. If you are going to dig it in the morning and move it before noon into it's awaiting planting hole, properly ammended and fertilized-- you may have a chance of success. You'll lneed to install it with plenty of root stimulator and water it every day for 21 days until it takes hold. To help insure success cut back the canopy about 6-8 inches then it will have less leaves to feed.

--And forgive it if it doesn't boom profusely the next year.

Good luck, you'll need it.

PS Install it at the exact same depth as it was growing before the move. Any deeper and you will killl it. They are shallow growers and resent having their roots disturbed at all. Also: use compost and rich soil when you plant it. Mulch heavily and keep the mulch soaked for at least a week.

Can you successfully move a 30 year old rhododendron bush?
Most rhododendrons and azaleas in the landscape, even large ones, can be moved using proper care.

Q: We have a rhododendron that was planted too close to the house and partially blocks a stairway to our side door. I would like to move it around to the front of our house.

We are going to be grading our property soon, so I would like to move it before it gets destroyed by the heavy machinery.

Would it survive if I move it this time of year, or should I just leave it be until September (and hope it doesn't get killed during the grading process) ?

A: If the plant will have a better chance of survival by being moved rather than staying put, then I would go ahead and move it. If the weather has been dry, water it a day or 2 ahead to get moisture into the plant, then be sure to water 1-2 times weekly afterward.

You might also apply an anti-transpirant to the underside of the leaves to reduce the amount of moisture the plant transpires normally. This will help reduce transplant shock and increase the plant's chance for survival.

Moving Bushes

Q: I live outside of Baltimore MD and I also have a home in Southern Delaware. I want to move to Delaware an established lilac, Chinese Maple and two rhododendrons.

When do I do this (time of year)? How critical is the root structure? Do I have to have a backhoe to get enough of the roots.

A: The size of the rootball is determined by the size of the plant, so if you have large plants you'll need large rootballs. A backhoe may be needed, if you want to save digging energy.

For the rhododendrons, you could dig them in September.

As for the lilac and maple, I would wait until they're going dormant for the winter (any time after the first hard frost). Deciduous trees prefer being dug up when they're "napping".

To determine rootball size, measure the diameter of the trunk about 6" above ground level. Dig 10-12" of rootball for every inch of trunk diameter, i.e., if the trunk is 3" in diameter the rootball should be 30-36" in diameter.

This should get you the minimum amount of roots for the plant to survive the move, but it's still always a risk when transplanting.

Before digging, water the plants thoroughly 7 days before the move and again 2-3 days ahead. This will get them well-hydrated, and will also moisten the soil (slightly moist soil holds a rootball a little better than dry soil).

When they're planted, water once a week as needed, checking the soil moisture first to be sure they need watering.

Hope this helps!

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