how late do you transplant?

Juliana63(z5 MI)September 26, 2006

I am frantically redesigning a few beds on these last warm days -- I'm not doing much division, just moving large clumps about. Mea culpa, some of these plants are in flower.... But I am cautious about continuing into October, in doubt as to whether the plants will have time to establish before the ground freezes. Some garden books I've consulted even insisted that no planting should be done later than 6 weeks before frost -- huh? That would mean Sept. 1 around here. It seems that 6 weeks before the ground freezes would be more reasonable.

How late do you walk around the garden with a plant on your shovel?

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nancyd(5/Rochester, NY)

I'm afraid I'm guilty as charged. I frequently move stuff into early October although the rule of thumb up here is to finish by Labor Day. That's the safe approach, but too confining for me. I don't always know how I want to rearrange things until this point. I watch the weather and typically we don't get a hard frost until early November. If you move things that late you have to be willing to take the risk that some might not survive, but I find that most do if you mulch sufficiently. I just moved a bunch of stuff on Sunday, including some shrubs. I prefer to do the bulk of my moving in the fall rather than the spring because I can see where everything is instead of guessing where things are planted or how they might look.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 10:07AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

In zone 5 I don't go past the end of September. (Trees and shrubs are different-- you can move them into early December, though I aim for getting it all done by the end of Oct).

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 4:40PM
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I plant until the snow flies. Literally, we stop the day before our first heavy and lasting snowfall - typically at the end of November. Survival is high - in fact, I can't remember losing a single plant from fall planting in the past two or three years.
I count on the snow as protection and have no idea how well plants would or wouldn't do without it.
In fact, we have just rototilled new stock beds in our field where we hope to plant as soon as possible. Judging by our schedules, that will be about the middle of October.
Most northern gardeners are far too conservative about planting times. Most problems with overwintering occur because the plant has not formed a proper root structure for survival. We never fall plant anything grown in soilless mix - in our experience, chances of survival are extremely poor.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 5:43PM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

I'm still moving things around now too. We had triple digit temps until the beginning of September, and there's no way I'm moving anything in that heat. And a couple of weekends in September it rained, so I couldn't get anything done then either. Consequently, I'm behind on my gardening chores, and probably won't be finished yet for a couple more weeks. So I guess I'll find out next year how well it works. I moved things around last fall (in a different bed), and everything turned out fine.

I'm with you though, the soil is still warm even if the air isn't, so I would think they'll be alright unless they were tender perennials to begin with. And I've heard rumblings about El Nino, so we might be having a mild winter to boot.


    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 6:23PM
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blackswamp_girl(6a NEOhio)

In 2004 I got the keys to my new house in October. Although my ex had made noise about letting me come back to the house (which he had kept) in spring to fetch more plants, he was starting to date a crazy, jealous woman by the end of October so I took all of the "essential" plants, just in case.

They all got planted the last week of October or the first week of November, and everything lived--amazing. Here's what I moved: 'Hillside Black Beauty' cimicifuga, 3 blueberry shrubs, 6 'Zweiweltenkind' goatsbeard, 6 'Pine Knot Strain' hellebores, a few clumps of ornamental grasses, some unnamed toad lilies, 'Chubby Fingers' sedum

That said, I'd like to have my plant moving done by the beginning of October here if at all possible! :)

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 8:46PM
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Still buying plants here. LOL! They are all going for cheap at the nurseries and I'm taking advantage.

I've been known to plant in November, but our ground doesn't freeze hard until late December - last year it was in mid-January. Our winters are getting milder...

Working with the 'ground freeze' rule, I've never lost a plant.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2006 at 7:54AM
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waplummer(Z5 NY)

The only problem with late planting that I see is frost heaving since the roots are not anchored in the soil. A heavy mulch should alleviate that problem.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2006 at 10:31PM
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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

I plant well into Oct. If late in Oct., I mulch well like waplummer stated.

I have planted daylilies in Nov. and they all made it.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 6:51AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Last year, taking advantage of sales, I planted through the end of October. I lost about 25%, all of which (the lost ones) were planted in the last week. No consistent snow cover is what I blame for it. I had planned to add more mulch (than what was there before I planted the late plants), but couldn't find any to buy. So maybe get the mulch ahead of time! That might have made a difference.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 10:38PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

I too am still buying, trading, dividing, and moving. With the cooler temps and moist soil, things don't even show signs of wilt, but instead just take right off.

I'll be at it for a while yet.


    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 11:30PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

I just planted out some flowering currants that I started from cuttings in the spring and a red yucca from seed. Unfortunately my plants are still blooming heavily so I am trying to find spaces for things that need to go into the ground for winter then in spring I will dig them up and put them where I really want toem to go.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 5:33AM
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indyrose(z5 Indianapolis)

I'm still planting and transplanting. I rarely lose anything because of the lateness. I tend to "mud them in" and I believe that helps get them established just fine. -- Just my personal methods, which seem to work for me. (I've been know to move things in the dead of winter if we get a few days break in the weather.)


    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 3:56PM
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I prefer to move things in the spring, when the plants first break dormancy, rather than now. Just personal preference.

As for *new* planting, I'm done, having just put in the last of the bulbs and one more shrub this past weekend. I'm all for snapping up end-of-the-season bargains, but I always plan to finish before the end of September just to be on the safe side.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 4:04PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

I am up here in MI too. Still have a flat of plants to get dug in. Van Atta's in East Lansing had the 3" pots of perennials for $1 and I couldn't resist! Found some other beauties at Meijers, less than half price, so they are waiting too. I DID get the beds dug up, ready, Iris out, but daily rain has prevented planting. My heavy dirt would be cement if I worked it now. I also have all the spring bulbs I dug out in spring, that need replanting.

I have been pretty happy with planting until mid-Oct. I think I have only lost 3-4 plants in about 5 years. Our ground doesn't freeze until late Nov. So plants do some growing underground to prepare for winter. I try to mulch new plants well. I just hate paying full price for plants when the fall sales allow me to purchase in larger quantity! I do think Fall planted things do better for me than most Spring planted items.

I was using Oak leaf shreds as mulch but they just turn into dirt too fast! Makes the beds very nice, but even heavy layers are down to dirt by June. Shredding leaves does use them up pretty fast. Even huge piles of leaves are down to 1-2 bags when done. Shredded leaves do stay put on the garden pretty well all winter. I saved some bags to add to new bed when I rototilled for annuals. Lighten the dirt up and seems quite rich in a short time. Plenty of worms.

I plan to get shredded wood again, lay nespaper and then remulch the beds needing it. This method has been the best protective, weed preventing method I have tried.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 7:11PM
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I am still planting but I hope to finish this weekend - if the rain would let up!

I think it makes a difference if you are talking about planting a new purchase that's in a pot or digging something up to transplant or divide. I would be comfortable planting from a pot until mid- to late-October but I wouldn't dig and/or divide that late unless it was something super-tough. The plant needs time to recover from the shock. As for heaving, I've only ever seen that on small plants (4" pots). Extra mulch would definitely be in order in that case.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2006 at 1:43PM
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bean_counter_z4(Zone 4, Rkfd,IL)

I've had few plant/transplanting failures, but the ones I've had have been with October planting. If you gotta, you gotta but I would be sure to mulch heavily. It probably depends on the plant and the zone as much as anything. Good luck to all us last minute gardeners.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2006 at 4:41PM
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Last year, I finished in mid-November. The year before, early-December. It looks like I'll be as late this year, but I'll be doing a lot more burying of pots, and not actual planting.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2006 at 4:55PM
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I am tempted to bury some pots because the permanent position isn't ready yet. Do you think they are just as happy that way? We have LOTS of snowcover.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2006 at 4:47PM
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I'm usually digging up and move plants around thru 1st week of October, but I have moved dormant plants clear into December.


    Bookmark   October 21, 2006 at 10:24PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

If you are planting potted plants, I would suggest you move plant to next size up pot, before putting them in the ground. This allows you to spread out any circling roots or break up feeder root layers from constricted old pot. Plant will continue to grow in the dirt, even with cold above. Larger pot will allow plenty of root growth, make plant even better for permanent home in the spring.

My potted plants have done well with just setting them down into the dirt, good mulch or leaf cover for wind protection. You might put a couple large rocks or layer of pebbles under a big pot in the ground, before surrounding with dirt. This will allow pot to drain well with fall rains. Some plants don't like being so wet, pots don't always drain like plant in plain dirt.

I have repotted my tree seedlings into bigger buried pots for winter in the garden. I hope to plant these seedlings next fall so they have that warm fall weather to settle into their new locations. All the perennials I recently planted seem to be happy, nice looking, leaves not wilted. A rose Campion is happily blooming, nice color in the dreary rain.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 4:26PM
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jannie(z7 LI NY)

I have a bag of tulip bulbs I still want to get in the ground for next spring.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 8:39AM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

I just finished up planting today. I will mulch really well, and will be anxious in the spring to see if everything makes it.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 9:20PM
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This gives me some hope!

I'm still transplanting some dormant plants from VT to MA, and have daylilies yet to put in. (Thanks WMcS!) I will water some more and mulch as suggested to prevent heaving.

Jannie, I've planted bulbs in early November and had great results.

I'm so glad this questions was asked!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 3:04PM
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I'm in Northern Illinois (5a?) and still planting, can't pass up good deals on perennials! LOL. I also plant bulbs way into December, and never lost any plants... and my spring bulbs do wonderful each year. :)

Happy Gardening!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 4:16PM
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My biggest losses are nursery bought (Bluestone included) in small pots planted mid-late fall. Not enough time to est. root systems, so I plant my Bluestone orders spring-summer. No fault of the plants.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 12:15AM
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I just bought a ton of perennials at $1 each, the hostas alone were $25 orig!, so I figured as it has been 60 degrees here and almost December (global warming) it is worth a shot. In addition to the hostas, my loot includes lily of the valley, primroses, cranesbill, bloodroot, bluets. Dug my holes big, tried not to disturb the roots at all and mulched with leaves. We'll see! Better than them dying at the nursery.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 11:58AM
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