When a gardener digs up a tree or shrub in one place and transplants it to another, the plant will endure all sorts of stress. It’s common for transplants to show signs of shock. Most often these plants are unable to recover. This can leave the gardener wondering where it all went wrong. So how can the gardener prevent transplant shock?
The gardener needs to take preventive measures so that she doesn’t see any of those tell-tale signs of shock, like a thinned canopy, scorched leaves, limited flowering, or premature leaf drop.
To prevent these harbingers of slow death, our gardener should relocate plants during dormant seasons—after autumn leaf drop or in late spring after a harsh winter. Transplanting in hot, dry months increases the risk of roots drying out. Our gardener should also protect the roots during transport and install the transplant quickly. When our gardener sets out to install the transplant, she should place the roots at the same depth in which they were previously planted, so that the topmost roots are just below the surface. Then, our gardener fills the hole back up with soil from the original site and leaves out soil amendments, like peat moss or pine bark. Those soils are preferred by new plants but will stunt transplants because the roots will not grow out from that fertile zone. Stunted roots are a leading cause of transplant shock.Our gardener soon learns that woody plants adjust slowly: they can take three to five years to establish themselves. Roots need to expand and produce feeder roots to anchor the plant. But with patience and care, our gardener can protect against transplant shock and help establish a healthy plant.