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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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Tuesday - August 09, 2011

From: Saint Louis, MO
Region: Midwest
Topic: Planting, Propagation, Transplants
Title: Transplanting a redbud in August from St. Louis MO
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a 4' tall redbud that needs to be transplanted before the end of August because of construction on our house. Can this be done without killing the tree? Can I take a cutting from the tree and coax roots in water, just in case the transplanting doesn't go well? The tree is very healthy but daytime temps are mid-80's, falling to the mid-60's overnight. Please advise, thanks!

ANSWER:

Daytime temps in the 80's?! That sounds like mid-winter down here in Texas. When we first started reading your question, we were on the verge of saying NO, because we recommend planting in late Fall or Winter around here. However, you might be able to pull it out since the tree is obviously still not very large.

Our website has a set of Step-by-Step Guides and we found one on Transplanting Trees.  This is illustrated using a tree still in a nursery pot, but the basic rules apply. North Dakota State University Transplanting Trees and Shrubs, although not illustrated except for some links to black and white drawings, has some very good explanations of the procedures that should be considered. You will have to ignore the parts about the seasons to plant, because you have no choice, but you can certainly get information on preparing the hole in advance of digging up the tree, preparing the root ball, filling the hole and watering.

Another article you should read from our How-to Articles is Under Cover with    Mulch. Your plant is probably Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud), which grows natively to Missouri. Follow the plant link to our page on that tree to make sure you have the proper soils (moist, fertile, well-drained) and light (part shade, or shade) when you select the new home for your tree. Take special note in the articles we have referred you to on watering a newly planted tree. Transplant shock is one of the biggest killers of woody plants and shrubs, so the more precautions you take, the better your chances of still having a redbud next year.

On the webpage for Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud), be sure and read the Propagation paragraph, which mentions that propagation from cuttings is nearly impossible, and seed is the best possibility. We are not sure if the seeds will be ready to harvest on your tree before you have to transplant, but hopefully so. If you want to give cuttings a try, here is an article from Purdue University New Plants from Cuttings. We don't think there is much chance you can propagate new plants by putting cuttings in water.

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

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