3810 Whites Creek Pike, Nashville, TN 37207 (615) 876-1014

Archive date:  November 20, 2009

Time to Plan Transplanting, Part 2 of 3

Holiday herbs, camellias are featured this week…

Before our next installment, I want to tell you about the great selection we have of 6” pots of herbs. With holiday meals coming up over the next weeks, it is a great time to select a few pots of herbs and add a fresh zest to your carefully prepared meals. It is commonplace to spend $6.99 for a packet of cut herbs at the grocery store; we have pots of growing herbs, regularly priced at $6.99-$7.99 on special, while supply lasts for only $3.99. Potted herbs are a great crop you can harvest all winter long.

Our selection of kitchen herbs consist of 6” containers of sage, golden sage, tricolor sage, Greek oregano, winter savory, culinary oregano, and thyme. They are beautiful and not only would they be great for adding fresh flavor to everyday and holiday cooking, but they would be spectacular used as garnishing for those special occasions. Also, most of these herbs will freeze well. Especially, if chopped and placed in a small amount of stock in ice cube trays and then transferred into freezer bags.

Hardy Camellias are fabulous now, most are in bloom, we have just received a new shipment today. This weekend we are offering all camellias at 25% off! What a great gift these will make…for someone special…like you!

Our first poinsettias have arrived, and the wreathes and garland/roping will arrive Monday morning…get an early start on holiday décor, additionally, all living Christmas trees are 25 -50% off the entire holiday season! It’s too early to put a living tree in the house (obviously) but it’s not too early to make your selection. You can purchase now and schedule pick-up or delivery for later. We’ll take care of your tree for you until you’re ready.


Before digging the plant, tie up the branches as you would for root pruning. Mark the trunk where it meets the soil. When replanting, make sure you plant so that this mark is an inch above the soil line of the planting hole. The plant is now ready to be transplanted.

Shrubs less than 3 feet tall and deciduous trees less than an inch in trunk diameter (measured 6 inches above the ground) may be moved bareroot. You can more easily handle a larger root system with the bareroot method than if you dig a plant with a ball of soil around the roots. Every measure should be taken to minimize the amount of time the plant is out of the ground. Roots must be kept moist until re-planted. Failure to heed this will result in a high mortality rate of bare-rooted transplants.

Trees greater than an inch in trunk diameter (measured 6 inches off the ground) and all broadleaf and coniferous evergreens should be moved with the soil attached. Ball sizes should always be large enough in diameter and depth to encompass enough of the fibrous and feeding root system to provide for the full recovery of the plant. Generally, you need 1 foot of root-ball diameter for every 1 inch of trunk diameter.

Trees that are difficult to move (such as; walnut, white oak, hickory, sweet gum, beech, and sassafras) may require a larger root ball. Trees growing in loose, well-drained soil, such as a sandy soil, will have more extensive or spreading root systems than trees growing in a hard, poorly drained soil such as tight clay.

The digging operation consists of digging a trench around the plant and removing the soil. The trench should be dug far enough from the plant to preserve a large proportion of the fibrous roots and deep enough to extend below the level of the lateral roots. If you root pruned the year prior, this trench should be outside the root pruning trench.

Before starting to dig, remove loose soil above the roots. Make a circle around the plant about 12 inches beyond the anticipated diameter of the finished root ball. Cut the roots with a sharp spade, inserting the spade at the marked circle with the backside of the spade facing the plant. Be sure the spade is sharp so the cuts will heal rapidly. Next, dig a trench outside and adjacent to the marked circle.

Plants with soil attached: For trees to be moved with the soil attached, trim the ball to the proper size and shape with the spade, keeping the backside of the spade toward the plant. Round off the trimmed ball at the top and taper it inward toward the base. You can avoid loosening the soil around the roots by cutting large roots with hand or lopping shears and small roots with a sharp spade. Next, undercut the ball of soil at an angle of about 45 degrees to loosen the ball from the soil beneath and sever any remaining roots.

To prevent drying, cracking and crumbling of soil, wrap the ball tightly with burlap (balled-and-burlapped). Balls up to 15 inches in diameter can be completely covered with one piece of burlap. Tip the ball to the side and place a piece of rolled burlap under half of the ball. Then tip the ball in the opposite direction and pull the burlap under the other half. Pull the burlap up around the ball and tie diagonal corners together at the top. Secure loose burlap around the base of the trunk with twine, and support the ball by wrapping twine around and under the burlapped ball. You can also protect the root system by placing the soil ball in a pot (field-potted) rather than balled and burlapped.

Balls of soil are heavy and can be difficult to move. A ball of soil 15 inches in diameter and 15 inches deep (about an 1 ¼” tree) may weigh 200 pounds or more. When the lateral roots are free of soil, tip the tree to one side to remove the soil under the plant. This should be done gradually to avoid straining or breaking the roots and loosening the bark near the base of the trunk. Cut any taproots or anchor roots that still hold.
To lift the tree out of the hole, place a piece of burlap under the ball and lifting by the four corners of the burlap. But how do you get the burlap underneath, you ask? This can be easily done by rolling the burlap lengthwise 2/3rds of the way, tipping the tree over as far as possible, and pushing the rolled edge of burlap tightly underneath the root-ball. Next, pull the tree back towards the burlap, and unroll the burlap from underneath. This method gets the burlap underneath without having to disturb the root-ball… or your back. Four people can fairly easily move a 300 pound root ball out of the ground using this method. A dolly is very useful for transport.

Bareroot plants: For bareroot transplanting, after digging the trench, wash the soil off the lateral roots with water. This minimizes root injury during soil removal. To provide protection for roots, move the tree with "semi-bare" roots, leaving some soil clinging to the fibrous roots. This helps the tree recover more rapidly. It is a good idea to first dig the hole where transplanted plants will be moved to; reducing the amount of time the plant will be out of the ground.

Perhaps the single most important cause of failure with bareroot plants is that the roots dry out. Keep the roots moist, covered with mulch or wrapped in burlap or wet paper until you are ready to plant. Immediate re-planting is best.

All the best for the holidays,

David Bates

p.s. We still have pansies and they’re still on sale…