Moving and want to take my plants with me – Transplanting


Hi there!

I will be moving in November (but will have access to my new home in October), and want to take a few of my fave plants with me to plant in my new garden: peonies (just planted this summer), Virginia creepers, lavender astilbe (have had VC & LA for 3 years) & dahlia tubers (planted this summer).

Will they survive? Can you please share tips?
Thank you so much


Congrats on the move! Autumn (it’s now late September) is a good time to transplant your perennials, and October should be fine for pulling up/storing dahlia tubers.  You’re lucky because you know the spots where your favourite plants thrive in your current garden. Plan ahead to figure out where to place your plants in your new garden – check to make sure the soil drains well (e.g., if it’s heavy clay, you may need to amend the soil), and find areas of sun/partial shade where your plants will grow best.   Choose a cool (not cold day) that’s not too sunny to do the transplanting.

Here are suggestions about how to move (transplant) your plants to your new garden:

Peony – See a previous question on the Ask a Master Gardener website, Peony transplant query following deck demolition for how to move/transplant a peony.  Remember not to plant the peony too deeply – keep the eyes 2.5-5 cm (1-2 inches) below the surface of the soil.

Virginia creeper – Moving a well-established vine may be tricky, although it is easy to propagate the plant.  To transplant the vine, cut it back to 30 cm (12 inches) and dig around the plant so you can gently pull up both the remaining vine and the main roots – these may be quite wide and deep.  Be careful not to damage the roots.  Plant in a hole that is deep enough and wide enough to give it lots of room.  Fill the hole with soil and water the plant well.  Virginia creeper is very easy to grow and even simply taking cuttings from the mother plant, laying these sideways in shallow trenches and covering them with soil, may be enough to keep them going.  It may take a couple of years for them to establish.  It may be easiest to take cuttings from the established plant – see SF Gate. How to Start a New Virginia Creeper From an Old Plant .

Lavender – see a previous response on the Ask a Master Gardener website, Transplanting lavender  for details on how to lift/transplant. Generally, spring is the best time to move lavender, but this can also be done in the autumn. Remember that lavender loves well-draining, poor soil and very sunny locations – at least 6 hours of sun daily.

Astilbe – The best time to transplant astilbe is late summer or autumn – ideally at least 6 weeks before the first frost so they can grow roots and become established before winter hits.  This is very good timing, as after around 3-4 years in the garden, astilbes may need to be divided – their root clumps can become overcrowded.  Dividing them should result in better blooming in subsequent years.   Astilbes love lightly shaded spots and good, well-draining soil.  Water the plant thoroughly before moving it, and in the new garden, dig holes that are twice as wide as the plants’ root balls and a bit deeper than the length of the roots [usually around 15-20 cm (6-8 inches)]. Cut the foliage back to around 15 cm (6 inches).  Dig starting at 5 cm (2 inches) around the plant, to a depth of at least 20 cm (8 inches) to make sure you’ve captured both the plant and the entire root ball. When digging up the plant, ensure that the root ball remains attached.  If you see that any of the root balls are getting too large, slice through the roots with a sharp blade of your shovel – you can get 4 mini-plants from each one.   Place each plant in its hole and spread the roots, keeping their ends pointing downwards.  The crown of the plant should be 2.5-5 cm (1-2 inches) below the level of the ground.  Fill the holes with soil, pat the soil down firmly and water thoroughly.

Dahlia – See a previous response on the Ask a Master Gardener website, Dahlias that didn’t bloom — which discusses that dahlias are considered annuals in our climate, and that once the plants turn yellow or just after the first hard frost, it’s time to pull up the tubers and store them over the winter.   See also: The Spruce. How to overwinter dahlia tubers.

Although nothing is ever certain, there is a very good chance that your transplants will survive and thrive in your new garden.  All the best.