Transplanting Chamaecyparis

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by Treelover, Jan 3, 2015.

  1. Treelover

    Treelover Active Member

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    Hello all, I bought a Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Wells Special' about five years ago. It was in a one gallon container and now it is five feet tall. I have been meaning to move it to a better location but have not because I am not sure how to go about it and I don't want to kill it.

    I hear there are two methods: In the fall, should I dig down about one foot or more all around the outer edge to cut the roots so they will grow new little roots for transplant in the spring? Alternatively, should I just dig it up in the spring and move it to its new location (about ten feet away) preserving as much of the root system as possible? I am in Zone 6, Chicago, IL. Thanks so much. I have to get this done before it gets any bigger.
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    New roots grow from cut root ends in spring, root growth in winter is minimal. (The big push of root growth that happens in fall is elongation of existing, intact roots). And when you do prune roots long enough in advance to have a different, more compact outer root system to work with there is still the problem of this new layer being cut off when you do the final digging for transplanting.

    In Chicago I would wait until end of winter, move it then. Cut around and beneath it, pop it out, drag or cart it to the new spot. Digging a ramp-like sloping trench on the side facing the direction it is going to be moved in can both help with getting underneath to cut vertical roots and with moving it without having to lift it out of the hole.

    Leaning it over after the roots are cut, slipping a half-folded sturdy tarp underneath it and then dropping it back down onto the tarp, pulling the folded half of the tarp across to the other side would be good because then you could drag it to the new location on the tarp (after pulling the tarp up around the sides of the root-ball, to form a sling). Otherwise if you had access to a ball cart made for hauling trees you could wheel it across the yard.
     
  3. Treelover

    Treelover Active Member

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    Ron B - Thanks for the information. I want to be sure of what you're saying. You mean that I should not bother with the root pruning and just dig it up and plant it at the end of winter?
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Yes, if you cut the roots in advance (fall would not be the time) you have to do it far enough ahead of time for a substantial new layer of roots to have formed before the final dig - and somehow be able to execute this last cutting of the roots without ending up just taking this new layer of presumably more compact roots off in the process. And the interior of the root-ball, beyond the outer shell is probably not going to become any more dense merely because the outside was cut back. So the two-stage cutting of the roots is probably going to end up being a waste of time and effort.
     
  5. Treelover

    Treelover Active Member

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    Thank you. I fully understand it now. Guess I'll take my chances in the early spring!
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Main issue with spring transplanting is summer drought. So be sure to mulch after planting and water during dry spells.
     
  7. Treelover

    Treelover Active Member

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    Thanks again. I can always count on superior information on this forum. The information on how to transplant is invaluable to me and I really appreciate your taking the time. This is going to be a real challenge for me but well worth it.
     

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