The fun of growing vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees from seeds and cuttings is so rewarding. But, transplant shock can take all the fun out when plants don’t show the same vigor.
Plants are designed to stay in one place. They put down roots, deep or wide, and remain there until they die. It is us who move them around.
When plants move from one place to another, it’s a shock. It’s difficult for them to adjust to the new environment. Sometimes plants die as a result of the move.
Transplanting shock is caused by harm to the plant roots, during the transplanting process. Shock happens to seedling bedding plants and trees.
While the thickest roots are closest to the root ball, the most important roots… those necessary for the plant to survive and thrive, are farthest from the plant.
These minor roots are like thin, tiny hairs which absorb the majority of the water spread throughout the soil away from the plant.
Many new gardeners do not consider minimizing this risk, since they’ve never experienced it.
They see it as a simple task of moving the plant’s location. Some plants cope well with the new environment, while others may completely die.
Minimize transplant shock by taking preventative measures.
10 Ways To Minimize Transplanting Shock
Buy Healthy Plants
When you buy a struggling plant and transplant it, you only add stress to an already stressed plant.
Know When To Transplant
The beginning of spring or the end of fall are the safest times to transplant using almost any technique. Do not attempt any plant transplant in summer, especially field grown plants.
Container plants safety transplant most any time in between freezing and thawing.
Try Not To Disturb Roots
When you dig or move a plant, you will probably have to bother the roots a bit. Minimize the impact as much as possible.
Try to keep the soil ball intact, don’t shake out the soil when moving the plant.
Take As Much Root As Possible
As we mentioned earlier, the tiny roots at the farthest end of the root ball are the most necessary ones to the plant’s health and growth.
The more roots you bring along when you move the plant, the less shock to plant and the more likely it will survive.
Plant Properly In The New Location
No matter how careful you are, plants will go through some stress when moved.
The failure to use proper planting technique, adds more stress to the plant! Make sure you choose a location that fits the plant’s needs and the appropriate depth in the ground.
Consider amount of sun, soil drainage and quality. Then plant it using proper planting techniques: appropriately deep in the ground, moving gently, etc.
Water Plants Carefully
Plants need water to survive, give them plenty immediately after moving. After transplanting, the plant’s root system will need to recover.
Water plants immediately and religiously afterwards, considering the water needs of the plant. (A cactus, will not need water nearly as often as an almond tree, for example.)
If Roots Are Removed, Remove Top Growth
Don’t trim the top growth of the plant if you’re transplanting a tomato seedling. However, if a shrub is being moved, normally, I would remove about a 1/3 of the foliage.
Fertilize With Root Boosters
Once transplanted and properly watered, encourage plant root development with a root booster.
Remove Dead Parts
To help a newly transplanted plant, remove any dead parts like dried leaves, branches, or stems.
Keep An Eye On Transplants
Sometimes newly transplanted material is attacked by pests and insects. A plant in shock doesn’t need the extra stress bugs deliver.
Keep a careful eye on your plants, be ready to adjust and to help get your plants off to a good start in its new location.
With these ten methods, your plants will be on their way to less transplant shock and keep the “fun” in growing!