Autumn is in full colour and foliage is at its most beautiful. The summer may be long gone, but there is still plenty going on in the polytunnel and around the garden. This is a good time of year to rethink your garden design and to reflect on what has and has not worked both inside your polytunnel and in any other growing areas. If a tree, shrub or other perennial plant is not thriving in its current location, this is a good time to consider lifting and relocating plants.
Why Might You Consider Lifting and Relocating Plants?
Transplantation always puts stress on the plants in question, so it is always a good idea to ask yourself whether it is really necessary. Lifting and relocating plants should only be resorted to if it is the only solution. Plants may not be thriving in their current location due to environmental factors such as poor soil maintenance or a bad watering regime. If these cannot be remedied by changing your own gardening practice, or you realise that you have made a mistake and placed plants in an area in which they will never be able to thrive then you might consider transplanting them to a better location.
Why is Autumn a Good Time for Lifting and Relocating?
Transplantation of mature plants is best undertaken on dull, calm days, when the weather is not too warm, or too cold, or too extreme in any other way. It is often far more problematic to transplant plants if the soil is frozen or waterlogged. For this reason, October can be a good time to lift and relocate plants in your garden or polytunnel.
Tips For Lifting and Relocating Plants:
- Water soil well the day before transplantation and make sure the new site is well prepared.
- Carefully explore the soil around plants to determine the extent of feeding roots.
- Keep as much of the root ball intact as possible.
- Try to place plants back in the soil as soon as possible. If you cannot do so immediately for some reason, pack the root ball with organic matter, wrap in hessian or similar, and keep well watered in a cool, shady location.
- When replanting, make sure the hole you’ve made is big enough to comfortably admit the root ball/roots of the plant in question.
- Replant your tree, shrub or other perennial plant to the same depth in its new location. (Check for the soil mark on the trunk or stem.)
- Take care to pack soil gently but firmly back around plant roots and make sure not to leave any air pockets.
- Add a good organic mulch around transplanted specimens (though not piled around them) and water well over the following months.
Have you successfully moved plants in your garden, or from or to your polytunnel? Let us know how you got on in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.