Home & Garden Gardening

Gardening Tips on Moving a Perennial

    Fall Transplanting

    • The cool temperatures of fall make it an ideal time to transplant perennials. The University of Illinois Extension Services explains that cooler weather reduces the stress on plants, but that the soil is still warm enough to promote good root development. Plan to move your perennials in the fall, if possible.

    Move After Blooming

    • Typically, perennials should not be moved until at least two weeks after blooming, but before the frost kills the foliage in the fall. The Utah State University Extension notes that flowers that bloom in the fall are an exception to the fall transplanting rule. Transplant or move fall-blooming perennials, such as asters and mums, in the spring.

    Digging Up the Root Ball

    • Dig around the base of the plant, about six to eight from the base of the plant, with a spade or garden fork. Slide the spade under the root ball and lift the entire clump free of the soil. Shake the root ball gently to remove excess soil. If you are dividing the perennials, tug to pull the roots into two or more sections. If roots resist your efforts, cut them with the blade of the spade or with a sharp knife, leaving several shoots of foliage in each section.


    • Replant perennials in an area with similar growing conditions and light exposure as the original plants. Most perennials prefer loose, well-drained soil. Adding a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost or well-rotted manure to the area and working it into the top six inches of the soil provides a good base. Plant the flowers to their original planting depth, firming the soil around the roots with your hands.


    • Water the newly planted perennials thoroughly to saturate the soil to the root level. This provides needed water for roots to establish themselves. Water the plants once a week or whenever the soil feels dry two inches below the surface.


    • Resume fertilizing perennials in the spring when new growth appears. The Virginia State University Extension recommends applying 5-10-5 fertilizer in the spring and repeating twice at six-week intervals. Sprinkle a ring of fertilizer around the base of the plant and work it into the top two inches of the soil with a garden claw or hoe. Follow the application rate on the packaging.

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