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Monday - September 10, 2007

From: Denton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Transplants
Title: Transplanting Turks Cap, when and how
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Pants - We have an enormous healthy Turk's Cap - not the lily, but the one with red flowers(Malvaviscus arboreus v. drummondii) It has also produced a new plant nearby. Please tell us how and when to transplant. Thanks!

ANSWER:

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow) is a sturdy, self-proliferating native plant, good in shade and beloved by hummingbirds. As days shorten and nights cool, it will begin to drop leaves and become semi-dormant. The preference is to transplant woody plants like this when the weather is cool, both for the benefit of the plant and the planter. We like to trim the bare stems back to several inches tall, mostly leaving those stems to indicate where the plant is, so another gardener doesn't come along and cultivate the root right out of the ground. By the time you get ready to do this transplant, between November and January, there will probably be more "pups" of the original plant popping up around the parent. Get a shovel or preferably a pitchfork in the ground and under the roots, and pop the plant up out of the ground. Sometimes you can get hold of it by a strong stem and pull it out. Move it at once to a prepared bed; that is, one that has the weeds cleared out, maybe some soil improvements like compost in it, etc. A shovel full of dirt taken out should leave an appropriate-size hole for the roots you have just disinterred. A sprinkle of timed-release fertilizer is good, but not absolutely necessary. Drop the roots in the hole and firm up the dirt around it. These plants get big, often 3 to 5 feet tall and more, but tend to grow pretty vertically, so they should probably be planted about 18 inches apart. When you have your bed all planted, stick a hose in the soil at the base of each plant, and let a very slow trickle of water run. Keep an eye on it, don't let it flood or stand in water, move the hose from plant to plant and firm up any plants that want to keel over in the mud.

Being a native, the Turk's cap will not need a lot of care or additional water, and will bloom for months. And the hummingbird battle for territorial rights will entertain anyone who can watch out of the line of fire.

 

 

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