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Hi Lynne: In general, spring and fall are the best times to transplant, mainly because of the air and soil temperatures. Depending on the bloom times of what you are transplanting you may choose one over the other. There is always a certain amount of stress involved when we move plants from one space in the garden to another. When digging up any plant it is best to remove as much of the root ball as possible. If roots are left behind that were attached, this can be very stressful and make for a harder transition on the plant. Have the new home(s) prepared before digging up any plant. You may have to adjust the size of the hole; make sure the new home is twice as wide as the existing root ball and just as deep. Like any new addition to the garden, keep the newly moved plants well-watered for the first year. Avoid fertilizing for the first year and apply a thin, even layer of mulch to help keep the moisture in and the weeds down. Mulch should never be more than 2 inches thick, otherwise it becomes a host for insect and potential disease problems. When choosing new planting sites, consider each plant's specific growing conditions and mature size.
I have a 3-foot hydrangea bush and would like to transplant it. What is the best time of year to do this, spring or fall? It is also one that blooms on the old wood and does not come back from the ground up. Should I cut it back or not? Does it matter if I plant it in the sun or shade?
Hi Louise: Macrophylla (bigleaf) and Quercifolia (oakleaf) hydrangeas bloom on old wood, or last season's growth. They do not require annual pruning except to shape and remove dead wood. The best time to transplant these shrubs is while they are dormant, during the late fall or early spring. If you need to prune to make it more manageable to transplant you will should do so now, but even now you may be removing next season's flowers. Before you dig up your hydrangea it is a good idea to prepare the new home. You may need to adjust the size of the hole depending on the size of the root ball, but prepping beforehand will reduce transplant stress. The new home should be twice as wide and just as deep as where it is growing now. After it is moved, you will want to treat it like any new addition to the garden. These shrubs can grow in either the sun or the shade, morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal.
Ornamental grass is best transplanted in the spring just as the new blades begin to emerge. It will be much easier to move when you do not have to deal with the foliage at all. It can be quite overwhelming, depending on how large the grass is. Be sure to wear gloves and long sleeves; some grasses have razor-sharp blades.
Ornamental grasses can be cut back in the fall or left up during the winter and cut back very early in the spring before new growth begins. Some varieties hold up better during the winter than others that tend to flop. For this reason, some gardeners purposely leave them up all winter long, while others cut them back.
Grasses are low-maintenance but grow quickly and benefit from being divided every few years. When you cut your grass back, it helps to tie a string around it and then use loppers or pruners to cut the grass back to just a couple of inches. This allows for an easy cleanup. When you transplant ornamental grass, remember to water it as you would a new addition to the garden.