Seasonal care of trees & shrubs: Transplanting


Transplanting is defined as: the digging (aka. uprooting) of a plant from one location for the purpose of moving it to a new location. Typically, during this type of move lots of roots are lost.

Step 1: Things to do before you transplant.  Part 1: Preparing for the Move (PDF)

Step 2: How to transplant.  Part 2: Making the Move (PDF)

Spring is the best time to transplant softwood species like pine, spruce, fir, hemlock, false cypress, and Atlantic white cedar. Other plants to move in spring include:

Species to Transplant in Spring

Almond (Prunus spp.) Hawthorn species (Crataegus spp.) Oak (Quercus spp.)
Apricot (Prunus spp.) Hawthorn, cockspur (Crataegus crusgalli) Pawpaw, common (Asiminia triloba)
Baldcypress (Taxodium spp.) Hemlock (Tsuga spp.) Paulownia, royal (Paulownia tomentosa)
Beech (Fagus spp.) Hickory (Carya spp.) Peach (Prunus spp.)
Beech, American (Fagus
Holly, American (Ilex opaca) Pear, callery (Pyrus callergana)
Beech, European (Fagus sylvatica) Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos) Pecan (Carya spp.)
Birch (Betula spp.) Hornbeam, American (Carpinus caroliniana) Persimmon, common (Diospyros virginiana)
Birch, European white (Betula pendula) Hornbeam, European (Carpinus betulus) Plum (Prunus spp.)
Birch, River (Betula nigra) Horsechestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) Plum, cherry (Prunus cerasifera)
Buckeye, Bottlebrush (Aesculus parviflora) Horsechestnut, ruby red Pine, jack (Pinus
Butternut (Juglans spp.) Ironwood, American hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) Pine, pondersoa (Pinus ponderosa)
Cedar, red (Juniperus virginiana) Katsuratree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) Poplar (Populus spp.)
Cherry (Prunus spp.) Laburnum (Laburnum spp.) Sassafras (Sassafras
Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster spp.) Larch (Larix spp.) Silverbell (Halesia spp.)
Corktree, amur (Phellodendron amurense) Larch, golden (Pseudolarix amabilis) Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum)
Cypress (Taxodium spp.) Linden, silver (Tilia
Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
Daphne (Daphne spp.) Magnolia (Magnolia spp.) Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
Dogwood, flowering (Cornus floria) Magnolia, Cucumbertree (Magnolia acuminata) Tupelo, Black gum, Sour gum (Nyssa sylvatica)
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) Magnolia, southern (Magnolia grandiflora) Walnut (Juglans spp.)
Goldenraintree (Koelreuteria paniculata) Maple, paperbark (Acer griseum) Walnut, black (Juglans
False cypress (Chamaecyparis spp.) Maple, Red (Acer rubrum) Willow (Salix spp.)
Fir (Abies spp.) Maple, sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea)
Fringetree, white (Chionanthus virginicus) Maple, trident (Acer buergerianum) Yew (Taxus spp.)
Source: Dirr, 1998; Himelick, 1981; Watson and Himelick, 1997

More information on each step:

Authored by Rebecca Koetter, Gary R. Johnson, and Dave Hanson: University of Minnesota
Funded in part by USDA Forest Service: Northeastern Area
Chart designed by Andrew Rose:

Download & print your own poster or magnet copy of the “Seasonal Care for Trees and Shrubs in Northern U.S. Climates”

Rebecca works on urban forestry outreach education programs with the Department of Forest Resources in St. Paul.

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  1. Is it too late in the season to move trees (pine, aspen, maple)? If it is not too late, how do I know when it is too late.

    1. Hi Pat. It is best to move trees when they are dormant. That means before budbreak. During and after budbreak, trees are taking up a lot of water and moving it (and sugars) up to the buds to support leaf formation and growth. Moving trees during this period can impede their ability to grow well.

    2. Hi Pat. Budbreak simply means that the buds have expanded and leaves or flowers have started to push out. Not knowing where you are located or what species you are dealing with, I’m not saying that they are past budbreak now. You would have to look at them to see. Where I live, in St Paul, the silver maples are in flower (flower buds have broken) but the oaks and most others remain dormant.