Moving in Feb - want to take perennials with me!

auburndaleallison(6A)December 1, 2009

Hi all -- just joined gardenweb today and am hopeful someone out there can help me! I live in the Northeast (Massachusetts) and am moving to another house in early February. I have spent the last nine years at my current house putting in loads of perennials, some with sentimental value (transplants from various family members' gardens). I would love to be able to take a few with me, but am not sure how to accomplish this given the time of year I will be moving. The ground is not frozen yet, so I could still dig some up... is it possible to keep them in pots over the winter, and then replant in the spring? Or somehow get them down to bare roots and store them that way? The particular plants I have in mind are some Japanese and bearded irises, vinca (periwinkle), daylilies, a forget-me-not, raspberries, bluebells, and some others. I realize that there might not be a 'one size fits all' solution to this problem, but any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

My thoughts on the subject that I had posted a while back:

I moved a *lot* of plants from my first house to my current house. I wouldn't do it again, at least not on that scale. There wasn't anything I moved that couldn't be replaced, and it was just too much headache to dig all those plants up, pot them up, hold them for a couple months until the ground was workable in the new place, then try to find placed for all the plants. Guess what? The majority of plants I took have long since left my garden. They either didn't fit in with my design plan here, didn't have the right growing conditions for them in terms of light/soil, I just didn't have room for them, they didn't "fit" the style of the house I have now, my tastes evolved, whatever - you get the point.

The only things I still have are two Japanese maples and one peony. When I move again, I will probably take the laceleaf Japanese maple and a handful of plants that either have sentimental value or are hard to find/expensive and I know I could fit them in somewhere at the new place (e.g. tree peony, blood root).

Other than that, it's all easily replaceable and in many cases, inexpensively replaceable, so not worth the trouble of taking them with me.


To answer you question about storing in pots in winter, it's easily done. For more info, do a forum seach - this has been discussed many times. :0)

    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 1:33PM
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My first question is, are you moving to another house in the same area? If not, I would just pot up a few that have great sentimental value and replace the others. Tell yourself that the new owners will appreciate your beautiful garden beds and realize how lucky they are to have them.

If you are NOT moving to another area, but will still see the house after you move, take as many plants as you can and pot them up until the move, especially the ones with sentimental value or ones that are difficult to replace. My mom recently moved to a house very near her old house and every time she drives by, she wishes she had taken more of her old plants with her. (The owners have made some creative choices with the gardens, but it's their house now.) It would have been very difficult to pot plants up and store them during the move (it took six months for the new house to be finished, at which time she lived in an apartment) but she still misses some of her shrubs and flowers.

We have gotten her a bunch of new plants since she moved to the new house and now, she really likes her new garden spaces. In fact, the only plants she still wishes she'd taken with her were a few that had sentimental value, or were hard to replace, so I'd take the advice above and concentrate on plants that have sentimental value, may be hard to replace or are very easy to store, like bulbs. Hope this helps :)

    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 2:52PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

do you have any friends that can adopt them for the winter ... move them to a local veggie garden for the winter ...

try the search function in GW... this has been addressed many times ... hit the link for an example ...

good luck


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 3:40PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

another option, not discussed, is hoping for the compassion of the new owners(renters?). why not stop by and introduce yourself to them over the winter and mention a small list of specific plants that you were hoping they would let you dig up in the spring, explaining that you couldn't dig them before you moved. particularly if they're renters (where they don't own the plants), there should be no problems.

another option is approaching the current renters ? of your new house and asking if they would mind your heeling in some plants now (some strip of land out of the way,and it needs to be in the shade, so the plants don't warm up and freeze again- which will likely kill their roots). if they're renters, what should they care? they are not likely to be out there gardening now.


p.s. welcome to GW, land of very helpful gardeners. Don't forget to put your Zone # and location (town or N.E.Ma. or something)in your I.D. so you can rcve the most accurate info for where you are.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 6:58PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

If you have sold your old house, the plants go with the sale. Unless you specified in the sale that you will be digging and taking plants, the new owners could bring a suit against you.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 6:44AM
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I specified in the P & S agreement that I wouild be taking flowers in the spring. But before that P & S was signed and the plants were definitely still mine, I potted up dozens in late fall. Brought these with us the five miles we moved and stored them against an outside wall and banked them with a lot of hay and the worst winter in years finished the insulating for me.
Plants needed excellent drainage, like achillea, did not make it. But many of them did.
I would not do it again to the extent I did. I must have had 40 pots and very few were worth moving. I ended up building the garden around these refugees instead of having the fun of starting from scratch. But mostly it was potting up and moving all those plants when we had so much else to do. Then asking my husband to move them to the icy back yard when....we had so much else to do....Then....making myself plant them in spring...when we had so much else to do.

Use your energy judiciously. You'll need it.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 9:23PM
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I sold a house in October or November and moved in late January, on the coldest day of the year (!), and I took most of the garden with me (it was all legal, and if I wouldn't have taken the stuff, it would have been bulldozed). I dug early and made some effort to mound the plants up together and covered some with mulch and old blankets, even. I think that ended up helping, because one of the challenges was making sure the plants weren't totally frozen to the ground when I loaded them into the truck, as it had snowed a couple of times by moving day. Sounds like that could be a challenge for you, too, in MA. If you have a patio, it's easier to dislodge frozen pots off of that, rather than the ground. When I arrived at the new place, I again sort of heaped the now-dormant pots and put whatever snow, mulch or leaves I could find over them for warmth. (Had I had the time and permission, I would have asked to dig a pit at the new place.) There was a young tree that was special to me, and that I put in the unheated garage, wrapped in a blanket, and occasionally I fed it a little snow. It made it. I lost a few things as well (some of it surely to my own negligence), but much of what I brought thrived--the soil was a bit better here, and I was happy to have some interesting things to add to the new garden, which didn't have much in it beyond a strip of mostly peonies and daylilies. I'm not sorry I did it.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 9:34AM
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Thank you all for the responses! It sounds like I can pot some of the perennials up, and with a little TLC over the winter they might make it. I am not planning to take many (probably less than 5% of what I have in the ground at my current house), but there are definitely a few that are very sentimental. My grandfather dug up a forget-me-not from his IL garden about 11 years ago, and when he handed it to me, stressed the name 'forget-me-not'. He passed away last year. That one is certainly coming with me!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 10:24AM
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gottagarden(z5 western NY)

You can dig up your iris and just store them in a paper bag in a cool dark place. They are extremely tough and will not die from being out of the ground for months at a time. I speak from experience.

Plant them as soon as you can, even in the winter. I would not bother with the work of potting them temporarily. They are almost impossible to kill.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 2:49PM
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Auburndaleallison- What a great story! You must take the forget-me-nots. That's a wonderful way to remember someone :)

    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 4:12PM
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i just posted a similar thread as you. I'm moving in February and want to take about 20 pots with me. I'll be taking the advice in here as well as my thread. Good Luck.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2009 at 8:16AM
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