Transplanting Trillium


We are planning on clearing a wooded lot this fall in preparation to build a house in the spring. There are quite a few wild trillium on the lot that I would like to preserve and replant on the same property once construction is complete. I realize there may be challenges, but I’m hoping to be able to transplant the trillium to a safer location on the same property. I’m looking for advice and resources to minimze the risk of loss.


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners with your Trillium question.

Trilliums are notoriously difficult to transplant. Like other ephemeral spring blooming plants such as Bloodroot and Lady Slipper orchids, Trilliums respond poorly to human interference so the success rate is very low. Removal of just one flower or simply touching the leaves can destroy it.

I looked long and hard for advice on the subject and came to the conclusion that you have nothing to lose by trying. I suggest planting them directly into the soil in a safe area on the same lot and then relocating them later.  If that’s not possible, you could try potting them up; keep them shaded and protected. Be patient. After transplanting, it could take a few years before they flower again.   If you don’t succeed, you can purchase seed from a reputable Ontario source and give it another attempt. For your further reading I have attached some informative websites.

There may be other plants you can identify and try to save:  

Depending on your municipality, the Ontario Woodlot Association may be of assistance in maintaining the integrity of the land:

Here is the Ontario law governing Trilliums in the wild.

If you are interested in native garden plants that are beneficial to the natural habitat, here is a flyer with gorgeous suggestions: