best time to transplant small magnolia

Asked March 28, 2019, 5:44 PM EDT

I have a 2 foot tall magnolia that needs to be moved. When is the best time to transplant?

Arapahoe County Colorado

1 Response

Successful transplanting will require minimizing the amount of shock to the plant. They are best transplanted while dormant—early spring before growth begins. This will also give the plant enough time to emerge from any transplant shock and begin establishing before winter.

Make sure the soil is moist before digging. To minimize damage and improve the chance of survival, dig and move all the soil around the root system—known as the root ball. The radius of the root ball to dig up should be at least 12 inches (minimum) for each diameter of the trunk. Try to get as much of the root ball as possible, making sure to keep all the soil intact around the roots.

After the entire root ball is dug out, wrap or cover the entire root ball to keep the roots from being exposed to air and drying out. Based on the measurements of the root ball, dig the new hole 3 times the width and to a depth that the top of the root ball is 1" above the grade. The backfill soil from the new hole can be amended with organic matter only up to 5%. Note that mulching and watering is important during re-establishment.

See CSU's information on tree planting below. For best results, follow the instructions for proper planting: