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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - June 07, 2009

From: Germantown, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Propagation, Transplants
Title: Field of Dreams
Answered by: Damon Waitt

QUESTION:

I planted a field of sunflowers in April. I transplanted some of the crowded plants to different rows in mid-May - no problems. I have tried to transplant some of the plants this first week of June and no matter what I do, all wilt after being transplanted. I had no problems with those transplanted in May. Are they too big now, is it too warm? Thank you.

ANSWER:

You hit the nail on the head. In mid-May your plants were young with smaller root systems, that combined with the mild weather is favorable to transplanting. Now that it is June, the plants are larger and have more extensive root systems. The disturbance from digging up the more developed root system traumatizes annual plants leading to wilt. Of course it doesn't help that temperatures are higher in June than in May. As a general rule of the thumb, the younger the plant the easier to transplant.

 

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