Community Plant Exchange & transplant tips

Do you have abundant oregano plants, holly hocks, perennial grasses or just moved into a home and are starting from scratch? Come one and come all to The Frank House on Saturday, May 6th 10 am - 2 pm to the Kearney area plant exchange. Hosted by the Soil Sisters and Misters Garden Club, master gardeners will be there for tips and tricks, also a tool sharpener will be available for garden and kitchen tool sharpening. You don't have to bring a plant to share in the abundance, our purpose is to share and meet new gardeners and horticulture enthusiasts!

Transplanting How-To (

Start by giving the plant you intend to move a good drink so it’ll be well-hydrated by the time you transplant. Decide exactly where the plant is going to go. Dig that hole, making it a generous size—about 10 inches across and a shovel-blade deep is a good start. You can adjust it later.

Next, fill the hole with water and let it soak in. Fill it again and let it drain again. If the water still disappears within, say, 20 minutes, do it a third time. The soil should be moist, not muddy; this extra moisture ensures that the surrounding soil won’t wick away the water from your transplant.

Now you’re ready to begin moving operations. Dig all around the plant (or clump of plants, in the case of bulbs), wider and deeper than you think you need to. For bulbs, dig at least 10 inches deep; for other perennials, you may need to go down only 6 to 8 inches or so. I use a drain spade, sold at hardware stores—its longer, narrower blade is perfect for this operation.

Eyeball the size of the root-ball when you lift it, and then gently set the plant back in place. Check your new hole—is it big enough for the roots to fit, and deep enough so the plant will sit at its previous height? If yes, great! If not, adjust the hole. If it’s too deep, just put some soil back in the bottom.

“Handle with care” is the motto when transporting the plant. Keep the soil around those roots as intact as you can, and be careful not to break stems or knock off buds. If your plant isn’t too big, simply carry it on the blade of your shovel to the new hole, supporting it with one hand. For larger plants, use a wheelbarrow. Slide the root-ball into the new hole, and turn the plant until you’re satisfied that its best face is forward. Fill the hole halfway with soil and firm it down.

Next, more watering! Fill the hole with water again, but don’t wait for it to drain. Go ahead and finish filling in the hole with soil, and pat it down gently so that you don’t squish out all the oxygen, because roots need air as much as water. Supply temporary shade for the first day or two to help prevent wilting. An easy way to do this is to set a lawn chair over the plant.

Think of your new transplant as a bouquet of cut flowers for the first week. It needs extra water until those new root hairs take hold, but water too much and you could drown it. If puddles stay on the surface for more than a few minutes, back off with the hose.

It’s amazing how quickly a transplant settles in, even if you move it at the peak of bloom. In as little as two to three days, your plant will look as if it’s been there forever—in exactly the right place.

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