Transplant shrubs now to December

BACKYARD Q&A

October 28, 2001|By Dennis Bishop | Dennis Bishop,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Q. We would like to move several shrubs in our yard. Is this a good time to transplant them, and do you have any suggestions that will help ensure that they survive?

A. There are a few exceptions, but the period between late October and early December is a great time to move most plants. The success of the transplant will largely depend on the age and size of the plant, and your ability to get a nice root ball on your plant. In general, it is best to move plants while they are young and relatively small. Older plants that are established in the landscape do not respond as well to transplanting. They will require more aftercare. To get a good root ball, dig when the soil is moist but not wet. Dig as large a root ball as possible and move the plant to its new location as quickly as possible. Plant it just as you would a new plant from the nursery. Be sure to water it well and cover the root ball with 2-3 inches of mulch.

Q. My fall bulb order arrived last week, but I have not had time to plant them yet. How long can I keep them in storage before planting them?

A. It will depend on the particular bulb and the conditions under which they are stored, but I would plant them sooner rather than later. If you must store them for an extended period, put them in a cool dry place and protect them from rodents. A cool dry spot will help preserve the bulbs, and prevent them from becoming diseased. They can be planted in late November or early December if necessary.

Q. This past spring, my dogwood flowered somewhat sparsely, however it appears to be absolutely loaded with buds this fall. Do you know what causes the variation from one year to the next?

A. It is not unusual for some trees and shrubs to act in this manner. Some plant species are so prone to this alteration in flowering that they are considered to flower only in alternate years. Other plant species are relatively consistent from year to year. While dogwoods flower every year, I have also noticed this tendency in their flowering. It takes a lot of energy for plants to produce flowers. My guess is that dogwoods sense when they have used a lot of energy to produce flowers in one year, and they try to conserve it in the following year. Also, some dogwood cultivars may be more prone to this than others.

THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST

1. Some leaves are beneficial to ground-cover beds, but an excess of leaves can smother them. Be sure to rake out any piles of matted leaves from your beds.

2. Don't put the lawn mower away yet. Lawns will continue to grow for several more weeks and should be mowed.

3. It is time to put most of the vegetable garden to bed for the winter. It is best to remove all dead plant material.

Dennis Bishop is an urban horticulture educator for the Baltimore office of the Maryland Cooperative Extension Services. If you have a gardening or pest problem, you can call the Home and Garden Information Center hot line (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at 800-342-2507. You can also e-mail questions, order publications and diagnose plant problems by visiting the Web site, www. agnr.umd.edu / users / hgic.

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