When is the best time to transplant a 'Japanese Maple?
I have a 10 foot high Japanese Maple and I want to move it to a different part of my garden. Is it possible to move it now, in January? and how is the best way to do this?
October is generally the month for engaging in transplanting (and other preparations in areas where the ground freezes) Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) as well as just about anything else. The thought is that it's easier for the plant to become accustomed to its new environment when it isn't actively growing and having to parcel out its life-sustaining activities in a number of ways (photosynthesizing, producing, respiring, stress-busting). Fall transplanted plants marshal resources specifically to survival while shutting down without the competing demands or priorities of budding, flowering, fruiting.
Winter sometimes may offer a less than ideal scenario of drying cold weather. But it also offers below-surface soil moisture and above-surface ice/snow cover which will melt and seep into the ground.
Some opt for a spring transplant, which can work. But such a timing for transplanting tends to be quite difficult for the newest plant on the block to become established when springs are rainy and windy and summers are dry and hot.
Wait a little longer until the heavy cold had past. A tree that size, if it is in free growth in the garden probably can't be moved in one hit. In early spring, when the ground warms up, dig a large trench, around the tree, it needs to start at about eighteen inches/2 foot away from the trunk, and about 10/12inches wide and at least a spade spit deep. Clean all the exposed ragged root ends with sharp secateurs then backfill the trench with gritty/fibrous compost to encourage new rooting. In the autumn check the new soil for fresh rooting, if all is well now is the time to transplant, if growth is weak, do the work the following spring.
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