Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Relocating With Your Garden Plants

Plan ahead and pot ahead if you're relocating with your 
garden plants ... Image © Copyright Oast House Archive
We spend years,as gardeners, amassing and nurturing our plant collections to create gardens of abundance and color. We may have thousands of dollars invested in plants. Some of those plants have sentimental value, like a rose grown from a cutting taken from a rose at the family farm, or a tree peony given as a housewarming gift. When it comes time to relocate, we want to take our plants with us.

With a little dialog with the new owners of the garden, owners who aren't "into" gardening, as well as a mention in the contract, it's possible to move all your plants when you relocate. This is rare in a real estate contract, but it can be done. You can move some plants without a mention, and you can certainly divide them, leaving the garden to the new owner.


Divide Your Plants

Many plants can be divided, including Creeping Jenny, bellfowers, hostas, Lily-of-the-Valley, and phlox, but timing is everything. It's much easier to do plant divisions in spring or early summer when the plants still have new growth and are easier to work with. Most gardeners do this on a on-going basis for the health of the plants. Plants get too big for the space and begin to look old and sad. Division also gives the gardener more plants to fill in the bare spots in her garden. 

Different plants require different methods of division. Most gardeners simply dig straight down through the middle of the plant with an ordinary garden spade to create a separation. Then they lift away one part of the plant with its own root system. This may seem ruthless and the plant will experience some damage, but it is a traditional method and it works. To minimize damage, gardeners will dig from the plant's drip line to below the root system and gently lift and separate part of the plant that way.

Pot up each new division with good potting soil and water them in. Place the pots in a shaded area of the garden until you are ready to move them. The roots need to be kept damp and cool. The leaves may wilt shortly after the separation, but they usually perk up overnight. Ideally, you should do this job well before moving day to give the plants time to recuperate and settle into their pots.

Removing Shrubs and Perennials

If you are removing shrubs and perennials without dividing them, try to dig them out before or after they flower. With shrubs, it's a good idea to prune out any dead or dying branches a week or two before digging the bush up. Dig deep and wide to get as much as the plant's root system and soil as possible. Place them in pots that are large enough to allow them to grow on. Use good potting soil if more is needed, keep the soil moist, and place the pots in a semi-shaded area of the garden until moving day. Again, you may see some wilting, but most plants perk up after the initial shock of the transplant.

Digging up Roses

Dig up roses in the same manner, preferably not while they are in bloom. Roses use up a lot of stored energy to create those beautiful blooms. If they suddenly have to divert that energy into repairing their root systems, the blooms will quickly fade and the rose will experience severe transplant shock. Roses do experience some shock when they are transplanted, but it can be minimized by transplanting either very early in the season, before the leaves begin to unfurl, or late in the season as the rose goes into dormancy. Larger roses should be heavily pruned before digging them out. Cut away dead or very old canes to ensure the plant is healthy when it goes into a large pot.

Nursery Bed

If you know you are moving well in advance of the moving date, consider the garden plants first and pot them up early. This will give them a chance to grow on and form a strong root system by the time you move them. Otherwise, dig them the day before the move, so they can be transplanted immediately to a holding bed at your new home. A holding bed will allow you time to consider the plant placements carefully without having to rush the design process. The plants can grow on in the holding or temporary nursery bed for as long as necessary. It will be fine to transplant them when you are ready.

Bring your garden plants with you when you move, but consider the timing and plan ahead. If you have concerns the new owner will complain about the garden looking much sparser than when they first viewed the property, you can nip that in the bud. When you've made the decision to put your house up for sale, you could simply pot up those special plants before showing the house. You will be keeping all the garden plants you've loved and nurtured.

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