Refreshing an old, tired flower bed with new plants is fun afternoon task. Before starting this project however, you may want to “lift” some of your older perennials so they can be saved and planted elsewhere. Lifting an old plant for transplanting is a fairly easy job though does take a bit of time and a few supplies. Here is how I lift my old perennials (and even new baby plants) so they can be planted in other beds or given to friends.
For this project, you will need an assortment of plant pots (with drainage holes), quality potting mix, a trowel and bypass pruners.
Water the night before
Mid spring is the best time to lift plants for transplanting since the plants are small and the soil tends to be easier to work with. If you are having to lift plants later in the season or if the weather has been rather dry, a simple trick is to water the flower bed the night before moving your plants. This gives your plants a shot of water which will minimize shock. The softer soil also makes it easier to dig up the plant.
Preparing the pots
Before digging up your old perennials, prepare the pots for the new plants by adding several inches of potting mix to each container. Place the pots in the vicinity of the plants you will be digging. This saves steps and minimizes the risk of the roots drying out.
Lifting the plant
Use the trowel to carefully lift the perennial (and roots) out of the ground. Large plants may require a shovel. Place the plant into the prepare pot, loosely cover roots with potting mix. Water in, adding more soil if necessary.
Keep your potted plants in a cool part of the yard that sees morning sun but filtered afternoon light for the first week. Water regularly, taking care to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Prune away dead leaves as necessary. Gradually acclimate the plants into full sunlight.
After a month or so, the transplants are ready to go into the ground. Plant as you would any other new perennial. What I do to minimize shock is cover my newly transplanted perennials with an empty plastic pot during the hottest part of the day for the first two or three days until they have adjusted to their new location.
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