Dave Epstein, transplant, tree care

Best Time to (TRANS)Plant Trees…AND KIDS!

When should trees be transplanted? Leslie in Texas

When our girls were young, we found traveling at night while they were asleep was a great way to avoid the not-so-fun ordeal of toddlers/teens (is there a difference other than SIZE?) on road trips.

HIT: trees (and kids) transplant whine-free while dormant!

What does that have to do with TREES?  Our precious little ones seemed in a constant state of need when strapped in and unoccupied, just as baby or even grown plants can be when we mess with their roots.  Plants like change even less than people do.  So moving them when they are asleep, or in botanical terms DORMANT, makes it easier on everyone.  That being said, let’s talk about how you know if a plant is dormant and an exception to the rule.  (Don’t our kids always make liars out us?)

"Root prune" mature trees a few months before transplanting, if possible and trim large plants if needed to handle them easier. (illustration from City of Vancouver, eh?)

Trees and shrubs, called “woody plants,” can be lumped into two categories: evergreen and deciduous.  While this may seem self-explanatory, even THAT can be confusing because evergreen plants lose and gain leaves, too.  They just don’t normally lose their leaves all at one time; they slough continuously, often with a big turnover in spring.  Think of it like our skin cells, dropping with little fanfare.  Deciduous plants suddenly look completely bare – or even dead – sometime in autumn.  (I get lots of “all my plants died when the freeze hit” e-mails every year.  Nope.  That’s just how they hibernate.) THIS is when they should be moved. Like our kids, a road trip while they’re sleeping means you shouldn’t hear a peep out of ’em.

Okay, so what’s the exception?  Tropicals.  They often ARE dead, or at least the branches are; some will come back from the roots.  DO NOT trim tropicals during cold weather!  The mushy or brittle stuff adds protection from the next cold front moving through town.  And transplanting a tropical in winter is the kiss of death, period.  Spring – or after any chance of frosty temps – keeps tropicals from feeling the cold shoulder.

MYTH: plants don’t have iCal….

Need to see how it should be done? This is a great video on transplanting trees from Growing Wisdom.com‘s Dave Epstein.  Follow these steps and your plants will be less likely to whine about their trip.  Sorry, though.  Couldn’t find a how-to on transplanting the kids to grandma’s for Christmas, but did find THIS one that makes me thankful my own children drive themselves there now!

5 thoughts on “Best Time to (TRANS)Plant Trees…AND KIDS!”

  1. So, I can I use your post as evidence when I tell my husband to leave my dwarf banana trees alone? Do they count as tropicals? I know they will regrow, and that some people count them as weeds, but I like them.

    1. Arlene, happy to be the bad guy for you on this one. All banana trees are tropicals. And weeds are ANY plant that grows where you don’t want it to, but sounds like these are exactly where you want them! What is it about guys and sharp objects???

  2. Move trees and children when they are asleep. Great plan. I just hope they stay asleep through January here in the upper Gulf Coast of Texas. (The trees – not the kids …) Thanks, Cherie!

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