Q. We've discovered a small redbud tree growing along the back edge of our yard. We think it must have started from a seed from our neighbor's tree?
We're wondering if we could transplant this roughly five foot tall tree to a more prominent spot in our yard yet this fall, as we're going to be putting up a fence where it's currently growing?
A. The answer to your question is yes, absolutely! In fact, late autumn is a great time of year to transplant almost all deciduous trees and shrubs because:
A couple of years ago, I transplanted a couple of six foot-tall lilacs by first bundling together their stems with bungee cords, at left. This made it much easier to see what I was doing around the base of the plants.
Next, I dug completely around each plant about a foot and a half out from their trunks (for a total root system diameter of about three feet), then drove my shovel about ten inches deep under the roots of each plant to lift them from the ground, below right.
At this point, I could have simply plopped (that's a technical term, by the way) these plants right into their new home. I took the process one step further, however, by washing all the soil from roots of the lilacs with a garden hose, below left. I did this was because I didn't want to also transplant the vinca, English ivy and creeping Charlie growing among the roots of the lilacs. And, without the soil around their roots, the lilacs where much easier to carry to the spot where they were to be planted!
Digging dormant shade, flowering and fruit trees up to twenty feet tall, as well as deciduous shrubs, many perennials, and small evergreen seedlings is done at many production nurseries throughout the U.S. and Canada beginning about the middle of October each year, below right. While some are transplanted immediately, are stored in massive refrigerated warehouses, below left, for shipment from March through June of the following year.
So, whether you transplant your redbud seedling with soil around its roots or in bare root form, make sure to water it well to settle the soil around its roots. You might also want to place a hardware cloth cylinder around its trunk to prevent voles and rabbits from gnawing at its trunk under a deep blanket of snow this coming winter.