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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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Monday - April 15, 2013

From: Seguin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Transplants, Trees
Title: Transplanting Seedling Texas Mountain Laurels
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have two mountain laurels that I grew from seed. They are in pots, but the roots have grown through the bottom and into my flower bed. The trees are about 6 feet tall. They have already bloomed. So I am wondering if I can transplant them now or do I need to wait until fall?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants answered a previous question about transplanting seedling Texas mountain laurels and gave lots of great tips for success from practical experience. Take a look at it. Here's some of the advice given: Transplanting small plants is easier than bigger ones. It will be easier for you to secure all of the roots without breakage when you dig them. If you look up Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) in the plants database, you will see that there is a section on propagation with information for the type of soil it requires. In the propagation mention, it indicates that this is a tough plant to transplant, so maybe Mr Smarty Plants is just lucky but we think this has more to do with monitoring and caring for the new transplants, making sure they are getting enough water and sunlight until new growth emerges. Once you have healthy new growth you can back off on fussing with them.

Moving your good size plant will mean disrupting the roots and you may have to break the pot to keep the roots intact when you move it since the roots are growing out of the pot and into the soil below. Texas mountain laurels have deep tap roots - even when young. So lots of care must be taken to preserve the roots unharmed. If you do move the plants, carefully look at the roots in the pot to see if you can unwind any that are circling the pot. If they are planted like this they may girdle themselves when they get older and cause problems for your tree.

The plants seem very happy on their current location having grown to 6 foot height – can they stay there? Horticulturist Calvin Finch wrote in the San Antonio Express-News that the survival rate for transplanting specimens more than about 2.5 feet (from the wild) is low. Even though you aren't transplanting from the wild, the digging up and moving action is the same and can be very disruptive.  It would be very sad to lose them at this point as Texas mountain laurel can be tough to transplant.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

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