How To Transplant A Plant In Your Garden


Whether you’re transplanting new garden plants from nursery pots, or moving a plant to a different spot in your garden, there are a few simple steps to follow to minimize transplant shock. In this post, I’ll give you details about when to transplant perennials, and show you exactly how to transplant a plant step-by-step.


Transplanting is hard on plants, and most plants will go into some form of transplant shock after they’re moved. Following the steps below will help minimize the amount of shock a plant will suffer, and allow the plant to recover quickly after being transplanted.

What Is Plant Transplant Shock?

As I mentioned above, transplanting is hard on plants, and some plants will handle it better than others. Plants wilting after transplant is usually the first sign of transplant shock.

Transplant shock can occur when transplanting plants from ground to ground or when transplanting them from pots. Severe transplant shock can kill a plant, so it’s best to take the proper steps to avoid it.

The first step in avoiding transplant shock is to move perennials at the right time. Then follow the steps below to minimize shock, and ensure your plants will make a full recovery.

When Is The Best Time To Transplant Plants

The best time to plant perennials is in the spring before the heat of summer, or in the fall once the weather starts to cool down.

Wait to move flowering plants until after they’re done blooming if possible. Transplanting flowers right before they bloom can cause the flower buds to drop from the plant, or result in poor flowering.

The best time of day to transplant plants is in the early morning or evening, especially when transplanting plants in summer. Avoid planting them in the afternoon when the sun is at it’s hottest. Also cool, overcast days when there’s rain in the forecast are the best days to transplant a plant.

How To Transplant A Plant In Your Garden

Once you determine the best time to move perennials in your garden, be sure to follow these steps for how to transplant plants outside to minimize plant shock, and ensure your plants will thrive in their new location.

The basic steps are the same whether you’re transplanting perennials or you’re transferring plants from a pot into the garden.

Step 1: Dig the new planting hole first – Before you start digging up plants, make sure you have the new spot picked out, and have the new hole ready and waiting. The faster you transplant a plant into the ground, the less chance there is for transplant shock.

Dig the new hole larger and deeper than the plants rootball or the pot the plant came in. Doing this will loosen up the soil and will allow the roots to take hold easier.

Dig new hole before transplanting plants

Step 2: Fill the planting hole with water – Next, fill the new hole with water and let it soak in a bit. If all the water soaks in really fast, then fill the hole again to ensure the soil is nice and damp.

On the flip side, you don’t want your plant floating on top of the water, otherwise it will sink too deep once it settles. So be sure most of the water in the hole has been absorbed before you put a plant into it.

Fill planting hole with water to minimize transplant shock

Step 3: Dig up the plant – If you’re transplanting new garden plants from pots, you can skip to step 4. But, if you’re transplanting plants from ground to ground, keep reading.

Next you’ll want to dig up the plant allowing plenty of space around the roots. Keep your shovel straight up and down, rather than angling it towards the roots of the plant to avoid cutting into the rootball.

If you want to divide the plant, now is the best time to do it. Many perennial plants can be divided by cutting the rootball with a shovel or sharp knife. Just be sure you have planting holes (or pots) ready to go for each division before splitting the plant.

Note that not all perennials like to be split at the rootball, so it’s best to research the plant you want to divide before you dig it up.

Try not to damage roots when digging and moving perennials

Step 4: Transfer the plant to the new planting hole – As soon as you’re done digging up the plant, move it directly to it’s new spot. Place the plant into the new hole at the same level it was in the old hole or pot. Fill the hole with dirt until the rootball is completely covered.

Do not allow any of the rootball to stick out above the dirt, this can act like a wick and pull moisture away from the roots.

Plants wilting after transplant

Step 5: Water the plant well – Right after you’re done transplanting the plant, be sure to give it a good drink of water, and then continue watering it well for a few days after transplant. Ensuring plants have ample water after moving them will help to minimize transplant shock.

Why Do Plants Wilt When Transplanted?

Remember above when I said that the first sign of transplant shock is plants wilting after transplant. Don’t panic! It doesn’t mean your plant is going to die. This is totally normal for many plants, and sometimes it just can’t be avoided.

Some plants simply hate to be transplanted, and they will droop and wilt no matter how well you follow the steps above for how to transplant a plant.

Most plants should pop back within a few days. Just be sure to keep them well watered, and avoid fertilizing until the plant has recovered.

Perennial plant recovered from plant shock after transplant

Whether you have a large plant relocation project planned, or simply want to add a few new plants to your garden, it’s important to understand the best way to transplant plants.

Just remember to wait for the best time to transplant perennials, and follow the steps above for how to transplant a plant, and you shouldn’t lose any plants to transplant shock.

More Gardening Tips You Might Enjoy

Share your tips for how to transplant a plant in the garden in the comments section below.

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