Moving: How to handle my perennials?

julianna_il(z6 IL)April 23, 2013

I'm moving to a new home in a couple of weeks and planning on taking what I can with me.

My problem is that I don't know what to do with my perennials. The backyard has two large trees, so I need to spend time figuring out where my best spots are before just planting things.

I don't really want to just dig a haphazard flower bed somewhere, then have to move everything when I figure out where I want to put in beds. (Or do I?)

Is there a way to hold things until I'm ready to plant? Say, perhaps in some trash cans with soil or containers?

Here are the things I'm moving:

--Various spring bulbs: daffodils, tulips, etc.
--Several types of Asian lilies that have been crowded for a couple of years.
--Magic lilies
--Large lavender plant (several years old, also crowded)
--Some peony chunks to start new ones
--Unknown things (lol...I'm better now about marking plants)
--A big old chive plant
--My delicate clematis
--Some day lilies are mixed in with things, so they'll go too (I like day lilies...these are just the orange ones, we call them flags)

They are all moving to a better home, and I know more now so can plant in better spots with less crowding. (And better sun!)

Oh, and my beloved Goat's Beard. This is my favorite plant.

Ideas? Options? I've never done this before and don't have any idea what I'm doing. But I can't leave my friends behind.

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I lifted everything in my yard one year in order to facilitate a new fence installation and garden redesign. I gathered all the old nursery pots I could get my hands on by scouring Home Depot garbage and area nurseries. We had plants in buckets, garbage cans, wheelbarrows and even trash bags- they were everywhere.
If you plan on only keeping them this way for a week or two this may be an option.

But moving is the largest project ever and other chores may interrupt or delay your gardening time, so I would tend towards setting up two temporary yet long term nursery beds- one shade and one sun.
I would plant all my gems there where a bit of benign neglect would not damage them as easily as in temporary pots. This will give you more time to plan new beds and prepare them- you won't be caught short and forced to rush.

Are you selling the old place?
Be aware that a buyer might be quite upset when the garden they looked at when house shopping is decimated and bare when they take possession. When I was selling a home whose garden was its most positive feature I made sure that all the plants I was taking with me were tagged as such while the home was for sale. There should be no doubts as to what conveys and what does not.
Home selling is stressful enough without throwing a curveball like this into a walkthrough right before closing.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 6:32AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

use potting media in pots.... it will reduce the weight of the pots SIGNIFICANTLY ....

i moved 1750 potted plants.. no big deal.. other than the massive physical work ..

but i was digging in the prior summer .. and ended up moving 1/14.. and had 4 months. to get the house in order,.. before i worried about the garden ...

you are not thinking straight.. in thinking.. that you are going to move your house .. and waste time.. worrying about plants.. or building garden beds..

take small divisions.. POT THE PROPERLY .... leave bulbs ... leave large things ...

and spend the time to get the house in order,. tending your pots.. and if it takes you all summer to prepare the beds.. so be it.. your plants are properly potted..

just never leave black pots in the sun.. the pot itself gets too hot ...

most good nurseries have a recycle bin for pots.. buy a large bag of GOOD potting medium.... and dont pay for pots ...

though i know you love your plants.. there isnt much there.. that i would take with me .... as in .. they are NOT $100 specimen plants .... think long and hard.. about leaving ANYTHING you can buy for under $10 the time you fill the pot with media.. and add your labor.. the hauling.. etc... you will have spent $15 to save a $10 plant... if you see what i mean ...

e.g. cant you get a new chive for about $2? ... and lavender is near impossible to grow.. let alone grow in a pot.. or handle the move i would skip it ... and frankly.. i wouldnt bother with bulbs ...

but of course.. its up to you ...

one other thought.. is mom or someone friend local.. that you could immediately move small pieces .. to a holding area.. for moving them in fall.. after you have figured out what to do with them???

i wish you luck.. but dont kill yourself worrying about the garden .... it would be much easier.. to reward yourself with a $200 xmas gift certificate.. and have a new garden mailed to your house for next spring.. rather than go thru.. what i went thru ..


    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 7:40AM
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julianna_il(z6 IL)

Wow, good information, both of you. Thank you!

1, I'm moving from a rental and it's not even been shown yet, let alone rented. I planted everything myself - there were no beds and the yard was a mess when I moved in.

2. I should have been more clear: the move is across town.

Ken, lol, you sure put things into perspective. Yes, a chive is about two bucks. haha. But I have other chives and they don't get these pretty purple heads on them.

This isn't the first time I've heard about the lavender...I'll skip that one.

In fact, I think some of these I can leave, and just take the ones that mean the most to me. Mostly: my lilies and peony starts because those originated at my late mother's house.

I have a flexible schedule, so I don't have to move these the actual day of the move. I plan to go back to the rental and clean it (and actually have a couple of weeks before I have to be out, so there's some flex time).

I like the idea of a holding bed. I don't have any shade perennials, so I just need one spot. (Other than the clematis...I'm not sure about that guy.)

I think I'll spend the first week unpacking, then go back and clean and dig up what I want. That week gives me a week to figure out where to put this holding bed...except if it's a good, sunny spot, it might turn into a real bed.

You two really helped a LOT. Thank you!!!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 10:47AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

I've moved perennials many times, if you want it and want to bother, no reason not to try. I love plastic shopping bags for moving plants, much better than pots. They conform to whatever shape root balls you've removed, and it's easy to pick up however many plants you can heft at a single time, just be careful to lift slowly so they don't bang together and knock the root balls apart. You can put these in a covered location for a few weeks if necessary, (assuming you've dug mostly-intact root balls, wouldn't bother on those I couldn't do that for,) to make sure they don't get drowned if it rains, but obviously the sooner you can re-plant, the better.

As long as you leave the ground fairly smooth, "normal looking," new tenants and Mgmt would likely care less about the whole thing, possibly glad it'll go back to looking more the same as the other units. Never once have I moved from a rental, or even an owned home, and had many if any of the not-taken plants remain, at least 6 instances I can think of - including large, well-placed native trees. Not that I'd attempt to take such with me, but don't expect to be doing anyone any favors by leaving anything you really do want to keep.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 11:50AM
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eclecticcottage(6b wny)

I use storage totes and bags. I moved about 15 lavender plants from our old house to new one in storage totes and they are all just fine. I also got a few freebies last year and did the same (dug them and put them in storage totes). I have let them sit at most a week, but I'm sure they could handle more. I make sure everybody's watered and in the shade-I've done this last year midsummer with the drought and heat and not lost much. Last spring I got a LOT of daylilies and peonies I couldn't plant for a while because of temp differences between where I got them and where I live (being near the lake causes a completely different temp zone in spring and fall-for instance, it was 60 when I left work and about half an hour later it was 42 at home). I used some window boxes as well as totes because I hadn't expected so many and ran out of tote space. Everyone made it just fine!

Here is a link that might be useful: plants in holding

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 12:51PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Horrendously, Ken, I will be doing the exact same thing - moving around 2000 plants, 65 miles 5 acres! Sound familiar?
OF course, I am still in deep denial about this, imagining that maybe I could keep 2 gardens, 65 miles apart, on the go at the same time. Worse, there are many specimen plants and over 100 roses. Obviously, I wont be taking stuff like bulbs (3000 tulips!!) but blackcurrants will probably be rootballed, along with numerous other small fruit trees (everything less than 4-5 years old). I don't have to do this all in one move, either - I can start in autumn, with campanulas, geraniums and so on, then bare root a lot of stuff over winter, finally moving a number of later flowering perennials in spring. Of course, the soil, the location, position etc, is all different, going from a sunny, open allotment, to 5 acres of neglected poplar plantation (will be having fun with chainsaws and stump-grinders) so some stuff is not going to make the move....but nevertheless, 10 years of painfully growing from seed means that it is not really the money (no, that's a huge lie....of course it is). Even so, some plants took years to flower and also, I probably won't have my greenhouse, or lights so replacing things is either a massive cost or a long haul from scratch. So, yep, I am saving huge pots (and dreading).

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 4:55PM
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tepelus z6a SW MI

I'll be moving 300+ plants (gosh, that number sounds so miniscule compared to 2000) come Friday from my ex's place in Ohio to my mom's place 200 miles apart. I have all of the garden space dug out though, been working on it since the end of March when the ground finally began to thaw. So I've had time to prepare. Most of the plants are daylilies and hostas, but I have several heuchera, vines, perennials and a small tree and a few small shrubs I want to bring up here. I'm hoping a 5x8 trailer, plus the back of my mom's Trailblazer and the back of my friend's SUV who is helping me dig will be enough room for everything. I really don't want to have to go back down there again for anything else, or pay the extra $50 for a bigger trailer that I may not need. I may leave my daylily seedlings until I know I have enough room for the rest of my stuff (my mom's yard is a lot smaller than my ex's yard) for now, I can go down there with the car for those and put them in the trunk and back seat. I'm just going to put the plants in grocery bags and garbage bags for the time being, they won't be out of the ground for long. I have all the time in the world right now to plant them since I'm not working at the moment. Not looking forward to this trip, but I'll be glad to have my plants up here where I can take care of them.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 9:22PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

When I moved from a rental to the house we bought, I potted up for weeks in advance. I got free pots from all over, friends, nurseries etc.

I used real potting soil not dirt from the garden and took my time.

It took two people with two full sized pick up trucks four trips each to move all the pots. I did not count them. But that is eight pick up loads.....of mostly three and one gallon pots.

This house did not have any beds at all. It was all lawn and hedge.

I lined up all the pots along one side of the yard and it took two or three YEARS before we had created enough beds to plant everything. Bulbs, shrubs, perennials too. I lost a few here and there but mostly they were all fine.

I also spread out what was left at the rental and smoothed out all the holes so it looked fine. There were still more than were there when I moved in....

Twenty years later I look out the window and see dwarf Rhododendrons in bloom right now that made this move.....

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 11:17AM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Been there done that. And wouldn't do it again with the exception of very expensive plants, plants that are quite difficult to find, or plants that have sentimental value.

I have one (one!) plant left from all the plants I moved from my other house years ago. The conditions at my other house were different that the conditions here - exposures, type of soil. Plus, I realized that by taking stuff with me I was limiting my creativity - I think it's better to start with a clean slate and design a garden with anything I want to instead of being limited by guilt because I already have it.

So, for me it just isn't worth the labor and aggravation, although I would take a few items that had sentimental value or hard to find or very expensive, as I mentioned above. Common plants aren't that expensive and are readily available in my area.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 3:42PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


many of my friends.. from my hosta club.. VOLUNTEERED to either dig.. or plant .. and even some..with trailers.. to move.. my plants ...

i paid them.. get this.. in plants ....

think about how you can get help ....


    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 9:29AM
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