En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Transplanting and Pruning Callicarpa
August 21, 2014 - I saw the previous question about Callicarpa from the guy in Texas and I have two questions based on the response. In SW Vermont, is late fall still the best time to transplant my Callicarpas? Also, i...
view the full question and answer

Garden problems from Centreville VA
July 23, 2011 - Plants die, trees won't grow. I've replaced the soil (6") twice. Replaced grass twice and planted new plants and tree. After two yrs, the tree is still the same size and the flowering bushes nea...
view the full question and answer

Decline of non-native weeping willow
June 30, 2008 - I live in Breckenridge, Texas and last year I planted a Weeping Willow tree on my property. It grew fine and seemed to be very healthy until this month. All of a sudden it has steadily lost all its ...
view the full question and answer

Viability of Texas Mountain Laurel in Louisiana
March 19, 2008 - I just returned from a visit to Austin and I saw the Texas Mountain Laurel everywhere. I live in the Baton Rouge, LA area and would like to know if performing some soil amendments would allow me to gr...
view the full question and answer

Fertilization of recently-transplanted yucca
January 26, 2009 - I planted a soft tip yucca a week ago, the spineless type. I was doing a landscaping job, it was dug up, left for a week without any dirt around the roots, and when the customer did not want it, I pl...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center