need tips on transplanting elderberry

christie_sw_mo(Z6)November 3, 2006

I bought a little six inch red elderberry (sambucus racemosa) in a four inch pot this spring and planted it in a temporary spot since it was so small. It languished for a few weeks and looked like it was going to die but then took off. Now it's nearly four feet tall and I need to move it. I didn't expect it to grow so fast and I'm worried about how hard it's going to be to dig in my rocky ground.

It would help me to find out whether the roots typically spread down (deep tap root?) or out away from the plant. Does anyone know whether it would be better to transplant in the fall or wait until late winter early spring? We got our first freeze this week (23) and only had a couple light frosts before that. Our 10 day forecast is above freezing.

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IanW Zone 5 Ont. Can.

Hi christie_sw_mo,

Elderberry have a somewhat shallow root system, however the roots are fragile, so care must be taken when digging them up. Your plant is young and so the root system will not be extensive and not so fragile. I would transplant now getting as much of the rootball as possible. Water it in until freeze-up and kept watered though the spring early summer.


    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 9:30AM
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I think it's doesn't matter when to transplant sambucus, I've done that in a spring, summer and a fall, but my choice will be the early spring while still dormant since at that time you basicly could treat it as a bare root plant and not worry too much about getting large chunk of soil with roots.
For the 1 year old plant you might have a substantial die back in a first winter, maybe even completely killed top growth, but don't worry.
Worse come to worse it will grow back from the roots.
As Ian said, root system is shallow, but rather wide, so dig accordinghly.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 10:32AM
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I'm more confident about transplanting in early spring since that's what I've done the most with other trees and shrubs but this thing was growing so fast, I'm considering moving it now in the fall before the roots have a chance to grow more. Would the roots grow more over winter? We've had a couple freezes with temps in the mid twenties but our 10 day forecast is above freezing. Did I wait too late for fall transplanting?

    Bookmark   November 4, 2006 at 8:41AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I'd say you can transplant now with no problems at all. Freezes and frosts won't matter.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2006 at 8:44AM
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I moved (4) 8-10' tall 3 year old plants last summer. All did well. Three took off and 1 initially suffered a setback before responding. They are quite shallow rooted. I dug a rootball that was about 2.5' wide and 1 ft deep. It weighed a LOT. The one that suffered did so because I dropped the plant over a fence moving it. Those that I was able to lift and set carefully in their holes kept right on chugging.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2006 at 3:54PM
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Thank you Kurt - That's very encouraging.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 7:46AM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

If you need a little more encouragement, you would have to try pretty hard to kill it! It might sulk if you don't get enough root but it will live. I recently removed one (there were some roots going deep, as there are with almost any temperate tree or it would blow over, but this was an old 15'+ tree) and some of the main branches and the trunk continued to grow for months without any roots at all!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 9:40AM
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