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Re: [AZ] needing to move a very old asalea...please help!!!

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  • S. M. Henning
    ... Hi Kara. Azaleas have shallow roots and can be transplanted anytime if they are healthy. Whether to transplant in spring or fall is always a question.
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2006
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      "Kara Bills" jkbills-5@... wrote:

      >I am needing to dig up 3 very old azaleas that are in the front of my house.
      >I live in zone 5-6. Springfield, Missouri.
      >We are having to dig up a sewer line and replace it and they are right above
      >the line.
      >These azaleas are at least 15 + years old. The lady that planted them comes
      >by every spring when they bloom, and I do my best to feed them and take good
      >care of them. I get tons of compliments on them every spring.
      >Please let me know what I can do to save them.

      Hi Kara.

      Azaleas have shallow roots and can be transplanted anytime if they
      are healthy. Whether to transplant in spring or fall is always a
      question. Fall is normally the best time because roots on a new plant
      need help establishing themselves. The shallow root system can't take
      in all the water it may need to survive and a drought can spell
      disaster. Water them frequently in the morning. Mature plants are
      much hardier and Mother Nature seems to take good care of them under
      normal conditions. Care for new plants for 2-3 years to help them get
      established. One problem with fall transplanting is that it makes a
      plant more susceptible to frost heave in climates where freezing and
      thawing cycles are common. In that case, rhododendrons transplant
      best in the spring. It must be noted that maintaining the proper
      moisture level in the summer is very difficult after spring
      transplanting. Make sure you watch the plant after it was moved like
      you would a new plant. Its roots are compromised and it will need a
      reliable source of moisture. If the weather has a dry spell, make
      sure you water any newly planted rhododendrons, large or small.

      When transplanting a large plant several steps should be followed.

      * First, it is best to stimulate a tight root ball by root
      pruning the plants to be moved about a year before moving. This is
      accomplished by cutting a circle around the plant stem with a shovel
      to cut off roots that extend beyond this point. This radius is
      usually slightly smaller than half way to the drip line.

      * Second, it is best to move when the plant is dormant and not
      stressed. This would be in the spring and fall when the plant is
      still dormant but the soil is not frozen. Moving in the fall before
      the ground freezes is preferable if you don't have a problem with
      frost heaving. Sometimes winter freezing and thawing cycles can
      actually lift a transplanted plant out of the ground where the roots
      are then desiccated and the plant dies. For this reason, it is safer
      to transplant in the spring after the ground thaws in climates where
      frost heaving is a problem.

      * Third, take precautions to preserve the integrity of the root
      ball. Tie the ball together and support is so it doesn't fall apart.
      The very safest approach is to dig a trench up to 12 inches deep,
      around the dripline of the plant. Then undercut the plant to form a
      cone, removing the soil an inch or so at a time, moving all around
      the plant, until you begin to see that you are removing roots. If
      possible, then get a square of burlap under the plant. Tilt the plant
      to one side, put one edge of the burlap close to the center of the
      plant, wadded up so that only half of it is on the open side of the
      plant, then rock the plant the other way and pull the burlap through.
      Tie the corners of the burlap to each other across the plant. Tie the
      burlap tightly to keep the soil around the plant roots undisturbed.
      Then lift the plant by the burlap and the bottom, not by its stems.

      * Finally, pruning the top helps match the demands of the top to
      the capability of the roots after they are stressed by the move.
      People have been known to cut the top off wild rhododendrons before
      moving and the plants have come back with superior shape. This is
      drastic and not recommended for a plant you don't want to risk
      loosing. Rhododendrons and azaleas have dormant buds beneath the bark
      which sprout to form new growth after severe pruning, hence severe
      pruning which removes 1/3 to 1/2 of leaf area is quite common when
      transplanting. Make sure you watch the plant after it was moved like
      you would a new plant. Its roots are compromised and it will need a
      reliable source of moisture. If the weather has a dry spell, make
      sure you water any newly planted rhododendrons, large or small.

      --
      Cheers, Steve Henning in Reading, PA USA Zone 6

      Visit my Rhododendron and Azalea web pages at:
      http://home.earthlink.net/~rhodyman/rhody.html

      Also visit the Rhododendron and Azalea Bookstore at:
      http://home.earthlink.net/~rhodyman/rhodybooks.html
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