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GardenSMART :: Avoid and Repair Transplant Shock in Plants

Avoid and Repair Transplant Shock in Plants

By Heather Rhodes, Gardening Know How
Photograph courtesy of Gardening Know How

Transplant shock in plants is almost unavoidable. Let's face it, plants were not designed to be moved from place to place, and when we humans do this, it is bound to cause some problems. But there are a few things to know about how to avoid transplant shock and cure plant transplant shock after it has occurred. Let's look at these.

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How to Avoid Transplant Shock

Disturb the roots as little as possible – Unless the plant is root bound, you should do as little as possible to the rootball when moving the plant from one location to the next. Do not shake the dirt off, bump the rootball or rough up the roots.

Bring as much of the root system as possible – Along the same lines as the tip above for plant preparation, preventing shock means when digging up the plant, make sure to include as much of the root system as possible. The more roots, the less likely transplant shock will set in.

Water thoroughly after transplanting – An important transplant shock preventer is to make sure that your plant receives plenty of water after you move it. This is a good way to help the plant settle in to its new location.

Always make sure the rootball stays moist when transplanting – When moving the plant, make sure that the rootball stays moist in-between locations. If the rootball dries out at all, the roots in the dry area will get damaged.

How to Cure Transplant Shock

While there is no sure-fire way to cure transplant shock, there are things you can do to minimize it:

Add some sugar – Believe it or not, studies have shown that a weak sugar and water solution made with plain sugar from the grocery store given after transplanting can help recovery time. It can also be used as a shock preventer if applied at the time of transplanting. It only helps with some plants but, as this will not harm the plant, it is worth a try.

Boil two cups of water with three tablespoons of sugar for about three minutes. Allow to cool, then water the plant with the solution. You may need to use more or less of the solution depending on the size of the plant.

Trim back the top growth – Trimming back allows the plant to focus on regrowing its roots. In perennials, trim back about one-third of the plant. In annuals, if the plant is a bush type, trim back by one-third. If it is a plant with a main stem, cut off half of each leaf.

Keep roots moist – Keep the soil well watered, but make sure that the plant has good drainage and is not in standing water.

Wait patiently – Sometimes a plant just needs a few days to recover from transplant shock. Give it some time and care for it as you normally would and it may come back on its own.


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