8:48 AM 01/31/2013
We have an enormous 60+ year old rhododendron bush in our backyard that we'd like to transplant to another location. It is truly a thing to behold - currently 7+ feet tall - but it sits smack in the middle of our backyard, and we'd like to clear the yard for our little ones to enjoy. We'd ideally like to trim it back and move it to our front yard, but I fear it won't survive the move. Does anyone have a recommendation for a plant transplant company in Brooklyn?
Are you on a North/South block or an East/West block? The conditions in your front yard are not going to be the same in your back yard, especially if you are on a North/South block. Since the rhododendron is doing so well and is over 7' tall, why not consider having it pruned into a more tree like shape, so that the kids can run around it and under it? It's really fantastic looking in the photo, so I imagine it looks even better in person. This type of pruning is done with some species of hydrangea with great success (there is a beautiful one in Carroll Gardens that must be close to 100 years old.) Good luck, it's a real beauty!
12:04 PM 01/31/2013 | 0 Votes
To answer your questions:
1- yes, you can transplant it. Winter or early Spring are fine, as long as the ground isn't frozen, so you could do it now.
2- when you transplant it, it's a good time to prune the crown and the root ball. It will take 2/3 years to grow back to its current size.
3- your rhododendron is obviously very happy in its current location. In my experience they are happiest with 4 hours of sun (so a northwest exposure is perfect, or with some ported shade from a structure or a larger tree.) They dry out with too much sun, and the leaves can bleach. Is there some shade from a street tree or a stoop in your front yard? If not, you could move it to another, less central location in your backyard.
Click on my handle if you'd like to contact me. I'd be happy to help.
4:55 PM 01/31/2013 | 0 Votes
There is some good advice provided by others. If you have time, it is always worth root pruning prior to transplanting. Dig down 1-2 spade depths around one third / two thirds and cleany cut any roots and backfill. Divide the rootball up like a sliced cake, so that you prune non-sequential sections. If you have time root prune now, autumn 2013 and move Jan 2014.
If you do not have time, you can compress this timescale dramatically.
Root pruning will lead to three benefits:
1) It spreads the stress of root severance over 2-3 events, making it easier for the Rhodo to cope.
2) It stimulates root growth inside the rootball, so with any given size of rootball you lift a higher percentage of root mass.
3) It will allow you to lift a smaller rootball.
If you have limited time the main assistance from root pruning will be 1)
Do not forget to water for a few years during dry periods.
Mulching (with area around trunk kept clear) is very helpful.
If it drops a few leaves/has smaller leaves, dies back a little, this is it adjusting to the smaller root system. If it drops all its leaves, check the cambium over the canopy, if its green it has just disposed itself of its leaves to concentrate on its roots.
Good luck !
2:57 AM 02/01/2013 | 0 Votes