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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

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