Transplanting perennials

Asked March 16, 2016, 12:37 PM EDT

When transplanting perennials to a bigger pot after getting them from the nursery, is there anything special to put on the roots? They are currently in a 2"x 4" pot. Transplanting to a 3 qt. pot for resale purposes.

McCook County South Dakota

3 Responses

The first step in repotting is to choose a new container. Choose a pot that is only one to two inches larger in diameter than the current one. A much larger container may look out of balance and less attractive. If you are reusing pots it is important to clean it thoroughly to avoid transferring pathogens and insects.

Choose a good quality potting mix. There is no need to put anything on the roots. Just handle carefully when repotting.

So if they are bareroot like asparagus and strawberries, do I need to do anything special to the roots? And I have rhubarb that will be bareroot as well. Thank you!

Here is some good information from Extension on planting bare root plants including strawberries, asparagus, perennials etc. If you have purchased bare root plants before it is safe to plant them outside then you will have to take care of them in the meantime. Roots, rhizomes, and other parts should feel heavy. If they feel light and dried out then the plant probably will not grow. The roots do not need any special application; good potting soils have sufficient nutrients for your early bare root plants needs.
1. Pot them in good potting soil and place them in a cool location such as a garage. The plants should get some light but should be protected from the extreme cold. If you want to put them outside, you can cover them in order to protect them from frost.
2. NEVER let the roots dry out, be especially careful with this before you put the plants in the soil. Place the root portion of the plant in water and let it soak before you plant - several hours for woody plants; 10-20 minutes for perennials, asparagus, strawberries, etc. This good soaking will help the plant get a better start.
3. Plant the bare root plants before you see new growth starting.
4. Trim off any dead or damaged roots and branches. Do NOT cut healthy roots shorter, even if it would make planting easier.
5. Dig a hole that is wide enough and deep enough to put the plant in without bending or crowding the roots.
6. Place the plant in the hole at the same level it was grown by the nursery. You can find this level where the roots start and the top shoots begin (the crown). Do not plant the plant deeper than this line.
7. Spread the roots out evenly.
8. Fill the hole with good soil while you are supporting the plant and keeping the roots spread (this works really well if you have three hands of your own or if you have someone to help you). Gently work the soil in and around the roots; do not pack the soil.
9. Water the plant thoroughly, making sure that the soil around the roots is moist. 10. WAIT at least four weeks before you fertilize the plant! Young roots are easily damaged by too much fertilizer.
11. Mulch the plants with quality bark, straw, or compost.
12. Water the new plants until they get established – never let them dry out, but make sure the pot is well drained so they don't sit in water.