How to Transplant Perennials

If you have perennials that have gotten too big or need to be moved to another location, here are some tips to make sure they transfer without too much trauma.


Spring is the ideal time to transplant fall-blooming perennials and ornamental grasses.  Fall is the best time to transplant spring blooming perennials.  This gives each group time to adjust to their new location before time to bloom again.  Allow at least six weeks of growing time before a hard frost.


The day before you plan to move the plants, water them very well so they’ll have reserves to survive the shock of transplanting.  Pick a day that is cloudy and not too hot and plan to work on your perennials early in the morning or later in the afternoon.  These are the cooler parts of the day and the plants will make the move easier.


Dig the new hole where your plant will live before digging up the plant.  Make it a little wider than the root ball.  Then move the plant into its new home right after digging it.  Use a flat bladed spade and cut as deep as you can around all sides of the plant.  Stay about six inches away from the crown and dig as much of the root ball as possible. If the plants are too large, divide them into two or more clumps and move to their new location.

Deep Rooted Plants

Some plants like oriental poppies, balloon flowers, and butterfly weed, put down one deep tap root so you will have to dig deeper and get as much of the tap root as possible.  These plants need part of the taproot to survive, so be sure you include a piece of the root with each division.


Water your plants well in their new location after tamping soil around them.  If they seem really dry, you can fill the hole with water before placing the plant then tamp the soil down and give it another drink.  The plants should be well watered daily for about two weeks.  Add a layer of mulch to hold in the moisture.  Don’t panic if they look a little wilted after moving them.  With plenty of water, they should perk back up in a few days.