April’s the month to get plants moving

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There are many reasons for moving a plant. A garden owner may want to give the garden a makeover. Others may have found that they’ve ended up with the wrong plant in the wrong place. Whatever the reason, autumn’s the season. The days are cooler but there’s still enough warmth in the soil for plants to settle in quickly.

Don’t forget that moving plants always entails some risk, so don’t even start to think about it unless you’re prepared to take that risk. If you have plenty of time, a couple of months beforehand you can use a sharp spade to cut down around an imaginary circle that rings around the base of the plant. This way the roots will have time to re-grow closer in to the trunk, making the plant much easier to move. Most of us won’t have the luxury of that amount of time, however, and will have to take other steps to improve our chances.

The first thing to do is to select the new spot and get it ready by mixing in old organic matter, pre-swollen water crystals and some Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food. The day before the move, give the plant and the new planting spot a good drink. This allows time for any excess water to drain off overnight. Next morning, spray a layer of Yates DroughtShield over the leaves of the plant. This clever product cuts down on water loss from the leaves and helps compensate for any lost roots.

Carefully dig under the roots, keeping root disturbance at a minimum. Use strong plastic or hessian to wrap the roots so that they remain as intact as possible. Remember that a plant complete with roots and soil can be surprisingly heavy, so make sure you have enough hands on deck to help.

Settle the plant into its new position, ensuring that it faces the same direction as it did before the move. Trim any obviously damaged roots and branches. Backfill the soil into the planting hole, check that the roots are not planted any more deeply than they were, and water thoroughly. This helps to remove air pockets and settles the soil around the roots.

There are two things you can do that will further improve your chances of success. One is to apply a soil wetter such as Yates Waterwise over the root area. This ensures that water moves into the root ball, rather than running uselessly to the soft soil outside. The other is to give the plant some sort of seaweed tonic every week or so. Seaweed contains natural plant hormones that stimulate root growth.

Other factors can enhance your success rate. For example, small plants move more readily than larger ones. Plants with shallow roots, such as camellias and azaleas, move fairly easily. Don’t worry too much if the plant’s in flower at the time of the move. You may lose a few of the flowers but, other than that, it won’t really matter.

Some natives, particularly those with specialised root systems such as banksias, grevilleas and other members of the protea family, can be difficult to move, especially if they are of any size. Fibrous-rooted plants, such as palms and dracaenas, are easy while they’re small but, because of their weight, will need to be machine dug if they’re of any size. Deciduous plants, those that lose their leaves in winter, are always easiest to move when they’re in their dormant winter period.


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