En EspaŅol

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
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
2 ratings

Saturday - August 04, 2012

From: Elgin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Shrubs
Title: Transplanting American Beautyberry from Elgin TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


A friend wants me to take her American Beautyberry shrubs that are in containers, because she is moving and can't take them with her. I have to transport them in the back of a truck and am afraid that the wind will break the stems. It is August, but can I prune them back now, while they still have many berries, so they can be transported safely?


We guess if it's that or abandon Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry), a very fine plant, then yes, give it a try. This is, as we are sure you know, NOT a good time to transplant any woody plant, and the risk of transplant shock is high, so plan carefully. The wind around the truck bed drying out the leaves, roots and stems will be just as damaging as stem breakage. Try to arrange to do the trimming in a "cool" part of the day, as short a time before they will be moved as possible. Keep them watered well as long as they are in the pots. but not the day before moving day, that will make the pots heavier and harder to handle. Have holes already prepared in the destination garden before the move is begun.

As you remove each shrub from its container, check the roots to make sure they have not wrapped around in the container. Some root trimming is appropriate so the roots can get quickly out into the new soil, before the roots strangle the bush.

The dirt out of the prepared holes should be amended with compost or other organic matter to help the new rootlets access nutrients in the soil and improve drainage. Get them pot to hole as quickly as possible, pull the amended dirt in around the root ball, leaving it a little higher than the original soil level, as the dirt will settle as it is watered. As soon as each plant is in its hole, stick a hose as far down in the dirt around the roots as you can, and let it dribble slowly until water comes to the surface. Hopefully, by then you will have the next shrub in its hole and can move the hose there. Water every bush this way 2 or 3 times a week as long as it is so hot and dry.

You probably will experience some leaf drop-the "transplant shock" that we mentioned. If you grow concerned that a bush is dead, do the thumbnail test, scratching a very thin outer layer off  a branch. If it has a green layer under there, that branch is still alive. This plant is deciduous and may drop leaves even earlier than usual, but continue to keep them watered and check to see if they are alive. DO NOT FERTILIZE. This will be a plant struggling to survive and to be fed fertilizer intended to push it to put out new leaves could easily be the last straw.


From the Image Gallery

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

More Shrubs Questions

Fast-growing non-invasive shrub for privacy fence in Sugar Land TX
December 06, 2011 - I live in South Texas in Sugar Land. I was going to plant oleanders in my backyard along the fence as a privacy hedge, about 20 feet from my house. However, I was told they were a bad choice becaus...
view the full question and answer

Colorful shrubs for Kansas
June 02, 2009 - I would like to plant some bushes or shrubs on the front side of our house which faces east. I would like them to grow 5' tall and provide beautiful color or blooms. What would be best for my locat...
view the full question and answer

Coralberry in Central Texas has lost leaves
October 07, 2009 - I planted a coralberry this past spring. It seemed to be doing well, but then I noticed some of its leaves were missing. Gradually, all the leaves disappeared, from the top of the plant down. It is ab...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of wax myrtle from Lafayette LA
December 10, 2012 - Hello, I have a good portion of Wax Myrtle Seeds. How do I get them Started for planting? Have been told to put several seeds in a Jar lid in a very damp paper-towel & leave them there till they ...
view the full question and answer

Aromatic sumac in Travis County
August 14, 2010 - This is an answer to article in today's, August 14, newspaper. I assume that aromatic sumac is native to Travis county because I have it all over my property. It turns bright red in the fall adding...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center