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?


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
2 ratings

Friday - April 20, 2012

From: Jackson, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Moving a large red horse chestnut tree in Jackson MI
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a red horse chestnut that is maybe 12 inches around, can I move it after the sap goes down about 10 miles to our new place? Sadly, I cannot afford to hire a tree truck. What are its chances?


Since we really didn't know anything about any of these trees, we found this article detailing the similarities and differences between them. Chestnuts, Horse-Chestnuts and Ohio Buckeye from the University of Michigan Extension Services.

Of these, two are native to North America, Castanea dentata (American chestnut) and Aesculus glabra var. arguta (Ohio buckeye). The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but also to the areas where they grow naturally.

So, that leaves Aesculus hippocastunum, red horsechestnut, as the one you apparently want to move. That tree is native to a small area in the Balkans, Greece and Albania, and therefore falls out of our area of expertise. From the University of Connecticut, here is some information on it. Another article from the Missouri Botanical Garden.

None of this has much to do with moving your tree; we just kind of like to know what we are talking about. Saying you have a 12" around trunk doesn't really tell us a whole lot, but we are willing to bet it is a pretty big tree.

From e-How, here is an article on How to Transplant a Tree or Large Shrub. The very first line about starting a year before you plan to move probably indicates this isn't going to go well.

If you feel that way, too, let's consider the alternatives. There are all sorts of tree movers that had advertisements on the page I got when I searched on "moving a large tree," but you have already said you don't want to do that. You should realize that, even if moved by heavy equipment that is built for that, the tree could still succumb to transplant shock. If the tree dies, we doubt you would get your money back from the tree mover. If you move it, without that equipment, you would likely still lose the tree. Are you selling the property where the tree is now? It would probably help the property value and sales appeal if it was left where it is. We are sure the tree would appreciate that.

A better plan would be to begin afresh in your new property, choosing young trees. If you are staying in the Jackson County area, we will look for trees native to that area. We have checked each of these on the USDA Plant Profile Map for that tree to make sure it grows naturally in Jackson County. Follow each plant link to our webpage on that tree to find out its projected height, bloom time and growing conditions.

Acer rubrum (Red maple)

Aesculus glabra (Ohio buckeye)

Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam)

Fagus grandifolia (American beech)

Nassella viridula (Green needlegrass)

Ostrya virginiana (Eastern hop-hornbeam)


From the Image Gallery

Red maple
Acer rubrum

Ohio buckeye
Aesculus glabra

American hornbeam
Carpinus caroliniana

American beech
Fagus grandifolia

Witch hazel
Hamamelis virginiana

Eastern hop-hornbeam
Ostrya virginiana

More Planting Questions

Planting wildflowers in spring for spring bloom
March 02, 2012 - I was wondering if it is possible to plant wildflowers around this time of year, and expect them to bloom in the spring still? I have heard that many wildflowers germinate in the fall. Are there c...
view the full question and answer

Hardiness of Euphorbia milii from Marble Falls, TX
December 02, 2009 - What is the hardiness of euphorbia mili, crown-of-thorns?
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of Esperanza from Austin
June 06, 2012 - I have an Esperanza plant. I've had this plant for over 5 years. Its in a large pot. The plant has NEVER bloomed. I fertilize maybe once a month and dont seem to be over watering, only when I notice ...
view the full question and answer

Competition between peony and bulbs
November 06, 2015 - I am planting 3 herbaceous peony bare roots 3 feet apart from each other. I am told it will take 3 years before I get blooms. In the meantime, can i safely plant springtime flowering bulbs in th...
view the full question and answer

Selecting a tree for a backyard in San Antonio, TX
May 11, 2013 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, I recently moved into a home in West San Antonio right outside Loop 1604..my treeless backyard is fairly small at about 55 ft long and 15 ft wide. I am torn because I can't ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center