Question of the Week: December 30, 2021

Shade-loving Japanese maple was brutalized by last summer’s sunlight.

“I have a Japanese maple that got too much sun last summer after my old American elm had to be removed. I planted it four years ago. Can it successfully be moved? If so, how and when?”

It certainly can be moved, and winter is the time – after it has been exposed to at least one hard freeze.

Dig a ball of earth that is two to three times larger than the original soil ball the tree had when it was planted.

Use a sharpshooter spade and hold the soil in place carefully around the root system.

Carry it by the soil ball to its new shaded planting site and reset it at the same depth at which it had been growing.

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Thin it out and reshape it by removing 30 to 40 percent of the top growth in compensation for the roots that will be left behind.

Apply a high-phosphate root-stimulator monthly this year as it recovers from being transplanted.

Stake and guy it if you think there is any danger of its tilting out of vertical. Pad the trunk to protect it from the wires or twine. Leave the ties in place for one year.

Keep it moist (but not wet) at all times this growing season as it readjusts and becomes established.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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