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Monday - March 30, 2009

From: Edmond, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Transplants, Trees
Title: Transplanting redbud from field in Edmond, OK
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I want to transplant a small redbud from a field to my yard. The trunk diam is about 1.5" and the tree is about 4' tall. What is the best way to do this? Should I plant it in a pot first?


We are sure we don't need to caution you about having the permission of the landowner of the field (if it's not you) to move that tree. We're assuming that you have either Cercis canadensis var. canadensis (eastern redbud) or Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud) since both are native to Oklahoma. The transplanting instructions would be the same, either way. It's getting a little late in the year to transplant woody plants and, in fact, the redbuds are already blooming here in Austin. However, if you do it now, and give the transplant plenty of water and care, you can probably still do so successfully.

First, prepare the hole you are going to transplant into. Do not dig up the tree until you have completed the preparation of the hole; you don't want the roots to dry out. The redbud needs full sun to part shade.  It has medium water needs but likes good drainage in the soil. We recommend choosing a good spot and digging a hole bigger than you think you will need.  Mix some compost or other organic material with the native dirt. This will help to make nutrients available to the roots and keep them from standing in water, as the amended dirt will have better drainage. 

This About.com:Landscape article on Transplanting Trees and Shrubs gives good instructions for deciding on rootball size, cutting through roots that are beyond what you can manage, and transportation to the prepared hole. Because the tree is small and not much out of dormancy, it should be able to withstand this without too much damage. Once you have returned the amended soil to the hole and your tree is either supporting itself or staked upright, stick a hose in the soil and let water drip in slowly until water stands on the surface. If there is regular rainfall, you shouldn't have to repeat this more than twice a week or so. 

If the tree begins to show signs of stress, like wilting or loss of leaves, trim off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the foliage to compensate for the root loss below the ground. This is transplant shock and is not uncommon when a tree is being transplanted. Keep up with the deep watering, meanwhile making sure that the roots are not standing in water, that the hole is draining well. Don't fertilize-any plant in the process of transplanting is stressed, and you should never fertilize a plant in stress.

Cercis canadensis var. canadensis

Cercis canadensis var. texensis



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