MOVING YOUR PLANTS
MOVING YOUR PLANTS
You’ve spent months, possibly years, cultivating a beautiful garden. But does moving mean that you have to leave it all behind? Thankfully, no. With some smart thinking and careful planning, you can safely transport your beloved plants to your new home and help them thrive there, provided the conditions are right.
It’s always a little bit risky to move your garden. Plants are temperamental in even the best of circumstances, and abrupt changes in light, temperature, or other conditions can be hard on them. But they’re also a part of your home and the result of a lot of hard work – it makes sense to at least try, especially if you don’t think that the person who will be moving into your home is going to want to care for them.
But before we get into how to move plants: a caveat. Some plants, such as trees and in-ground perennials, are expected to stay at your home if you sell. It’s within the buyer’s right to expect they’ll be getting the main plants of a property with their purchase, so if you are planning to take something big – say, a tree that’s sentimental to you – you will have to notify the buyer in writing about your plan, and possibly also replace it with a tree of similar size. The same goes for flowers.
As for your vegetable garden, that’s all yours. Crops are considered personal property and are fine for the seller to take.
Once you’ve figured out what plants you can and will be taking, you’ll need to dig into the details of how to transport them safely. Take the care to do it right though, and you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor in your new home. Here are some tips to help you along the way.
Factor in the season
It’s never a great idea to move your plants in the height of summer, when temperatures are hot, the air is dry, and the sun is strong. Exposed roots are especially vulnerable to the damaging variables of warmer months. It is possible to successfully move your plants in the summer, but you will have to take extra precautions to ensure that your plants are properly watered and transported, and that roots are never left bare in the sun. If you have control over when you move and want to make the process easier, arrange to move in any of the other seasons, which have more favorable conditions for transporting plants.
Hydrate plants before uprooting them
A dry plant is at a major disadvantage when it comes to weathering the stress of a move. The night before you plan to dig up your plants, give them a deep soak that will allow water to permeate into the soil and roots. You don’t want to drown them, but you do want to heavily water them so that the plants have water to hold on to during the uprooting process. It’s a good idea to get into the practice of regularly deep soaking your plants in the weeks and months leading up to your move, since a once-a-week deep soaking means a healthier plant than more frequent shallow soakings. And make sure to do that last deep soak at night, when less water will evaporate.
Give your plants a trim
To help your plants conserve energy during the move, make sure they’re as healthy as possibly. One of the best ways to do this is to trim all dead or excess stems and leaves so that the plant isn’t wasting any valuable energy on parts it doesn’t need. You’ve probably been trimming your plants anyway, but before you move give them a final once over and remove anything that doesn’t have to be there.
Uproot with care
The uprooting stage will be the first major stressor to your plant in the moving process. To ease the transition, water your plants again before digging them up, even though they should still be moist from the deep soak the night before. Then use a trowel to dig a ring around the plant, being sure to go wide enough that you don’t risk cutting through any root. Remove the plant from the earth, keeping as much soil attached to the roots as you can. Immediately upon uprooting the plant, place it in a pot with soil (and water it again) or wrap the base of the plant (the roots and soil) in a damp burlap sack.
Re-plant as quickly as possible
Try to take your plants with you in your car if possible. If they do have to go on the moving truck, make sure they are packed last so that you can get them off immediately upon arrival.
And now comes the most crucial part: no matter if you’re moving tomato plants or rose bushes, have a plan in place for getting them back in the ground as soon as possible. If you haven’t already planned exactly where each plant is going to go (and it’s okay if you haven’t), quickly dig a temporary trench that you can use to house the plants until they’re ready to go to their permanent places. Water the trench heavily before transporting your plants into it, and mix wood chips in with the soil to help the area retain water. Place the plants into the watering hole (it should be more mud than dirt) and cover halfway with fresh soil. Water the soil, allowing it to soak through, and then fill the rest of the hole with dirt and water again. Make sure the soil isn’t too compact, which will restrict air flow.
Reduce stress on the transplants
While your plants are settling in to their new yard, take extra steps to limit stress from the environment. You’ll want to shade the plants from direct sunlight for at least the first couple of days while they adjust to the conditions of their new home, and you’ll also want to be sure to water them every day while they regain strength. If you notice plants are wilting, check the soil a few inches down and make sure it’s not dry, which would suggest you’re not watering enough. When you – and they – are ready, you’ll be able to transport them one last time to their final spot.
No matter how much care you take, moving your plants is always going to take a bit of luck, so don’t be alarmed if you lose a couple of plants along the way. With proper precautions and quick timing, however, you should be able to successfully replant your garden at your new residence, roots and all.