En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Transplanting mature guavaberry in St. Croix

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - January 22, 2010

From: Frederiksted, Virgin Isl
Region: Other
Topic: Planting, Transplants
Title: Transplanting mature guavaberry in St. Croix
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live on the island of St. Croix in the United States Virgin Islands and I have a Guavaberry tree that is about 25 to 30 years old, between 15 to 20 feet tall and about 6 feet wide that I would like to remove from its present location and transplant it to another area in my yard. Can this be done without destroying or causing damage to the tree?

ANSWER:

We are in a small dilemma over your question. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the care, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which it is being grown. St. Croix is in the US Virgin Islands, which is an unincorporated territory of the United States, but not North America. Myrciaria floribunda (guavaberry tree) is native to the Caribbean but not to North America, so we have nothing on it in our Native Plant Database. However, your question is a basic one, common to many gardeners, of how and whether to attempt the transplanting of a large, mature tree, so we'll see what we can come up with.

Since we know nothing about this tree, we did some research and learned that it is a fairly rare tree, native to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America. It has been introduced into the Phillipines, Hawaii and Florida. Most of the literature we found had more to say about the berries, from which a popular liquor is made and featured in Christmas traditions. The berries are apparently not easy to harvest, because it is a very stout tree and may grow from 33 to 60 feet high and resists shaking to dislodge the fruit.  About the most informative article we found was from nutritiousfruit.com Guavaberries. From that article, we excerpted this statement:

"It is a temperamental tree often not bearing fruit due to high winds and insect infestation. Under favorable conditions the trees can bear fruit during various times of the year. For tropical plant enthusiasts, it can be grown indoors. As an indoor shrub it can potentially reach a height of about six feet."

Now we come to whether or not you can, or should, attempt to transplant this tree. We were unable to find anything on what kind of root system this tree has, other than that it is a member of the Myricaceae or bayberry family. There are a number of members of that family native to North America, including Morella cerifera (wax myrtle). They are usually purchased as small shrubs in the nurseries, and transplanted immediately, so we still don't know how the family feels about transplanting a large tree. 

Back to the basics, how do you transplant a large tree? We found two articles with pretty comprehensive information, Popular Mechanics Guide to Planting Mature Trees and, from North Dakota State University Extension Transplanting Trees and Shrubs which has a section on large trees. If you can, we would suggest you consult a professional arborist on the possibilities and consequences of this move. As large as the tree is, it would appear you are going to need expensive equipment and quite a few manhours to accomplish it, and the tree still might die. Without knowing your explicit reasons for wanting to move the tree, that is about the best we can do.

 

More Transplants Questions

Source for supplier of cedar plants in Pennsylvania
January 20, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Pants - please disregard a stupid question I asked a little earlier today about sourcing cedar plants near Easton, PA. I figured out looking up "Nurseries" could lead to Yellow Pages ent...
view the full question and answer

Why is my Mountain Laurel in distress?
November 26, 2008 - We have planted our 2nd Texas Mountain Laurel in the same spot (after fresh berm built with sandy loam) and it is not looking good in less than 2 weeks. We have an identical berm on the other end of...
view the full question and answer

Problems with a Monterey Oak in Austin, TX.
November 12, 2010 - I have a large Monterey Oak, planted last year that has not gotten any fuller. Do I need to fertilize and if so, when?
view the full question and answer

Care of Styphnolobium affine, Eves necklace
October 05, 2007 - I have an 18 yr old Eve's Necklace tree that is dying from the "bottom up". It has only a few leaves at the very top of the tree. I have, connected to the gutter, a rain barrel from which the exc...
view the full question and answer

Starting transplants of native Pleopeltis polypodioides
January 15, 2009 - I would like to know how to start Pleopeltis polypodioides (resurrection fern) growing in my oak trees. I have a source for the plants but do not know how to start the transplants on the limbs of the...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center