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is it ok to move a young semi dwarf plum tree now?

November 14, 2013

I bought and planted the tree about two months ago without realizing that I would be expanding my garden next spring and this little tree would be right in the middle of it. We have had several nights of freeing temps so far and all of my trees have dropped their leaves except this guy. It is just as green as ever.

Is it too late in the year to move it? In case its important, its a small tree about 6' high I would say.


Comments (5)

  • drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

    I would wait till it is dormant. As long as the ground is workable, it will be fine. Try to dig up with care. Prepare the hole ahead of time, so you dig up, move it in, and water. I would advice against moving when it has green leaves. Wait till all leaves are off, then a couple more days, then move it.
    This is actually the best time of year to move it. Waiting till spring you may very well set it back and have slow growth next season. If you do it now, the roots will be much closer to being established, if not established, and you should enjoy full growth next spring.

  • wilsocn

    Thanks, Drew. Hopefully I will be able to get a shovel in the ground when this thing does decide to drop its leaves.

  • alan haigh

    You can move it now- if it is stressed for water it will drop the leaves- it is already prepared to go into dormancy as a leaf killing frost would be the same thing, really. If the leaves hold, they may help the tree throw out some new root before ground gets too cold.

    I move plums in leaf all the time this time of year and don't see a big difference either way but I like a little leaf still functioning- and I'm talking bare root. I've already moved 5 or 6 plum trees this year and it only got real cold last two nights. They had plenty of leaf.

  • drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

    Well trees are resilient, but I still advise against it as the tree throws energy to save the leaves, instead of directing energies to the root. I would at least remove all the leaves by hand. I disagree that they could possibly provide any energy at this time of year. In the spring, yes, but not now. The ground is not going to freeze till December, maybe even January, it's probably warmer than the air. One advantage to fall planting is ground temps. The ground has been warming all summer. In the spring the ground is cold, it's much warmer now. A huge advantage.
    I myself have never seen a bare root tree with full leaves. that's a new one! Not a good idea IMHO. I guess it you're planting them soon after you dig them up, not as bad, but certainly no nursery would ever do that. Unneeded stress on the plant. Kinda like not sedating a patient before surgery, sure they'll survive it. otherwise not a good idea. Unneeded stress will just delay growth, even up to a year. The professional rule by arborists is 1 year recovery for every inch caliper. So a three inch caliper tree will take three years to be back to normal root size. At that size you do risk losing the tree when moved.

    This post was edited by Drew51 on Thu, Nov 14, 13 at 19:49

  • alan haigh

    Yes, and how often have you tried to move a tree any way but the way you believe in? I can't wait until full dormancy to begin moving trees and have moved thousands of fruit trees over the years not fully dormant, bare root. I watch them come out of dormancy and with many of them for years and years after that.

    I believe this is one of those horticultural issues that has never really been researched. Cornell recommends stripping the leaves when moving them bare root, not fully dormant, but in my opinion, it is just one of those logical leaps often made in horticulture (and most applied sciences) that has never actually seen the light of research. They also recommend against fall planting fruit trees (or at least did up until recently).

    The trees that I move earlier, when they have some leaves remaining, seem to do a little better than trees I move later when fully dormant, but it is not a controlled experiment and the trees are not equal to begin with.

    J. plum trees are particularly easy to transplant and respond without hardly skipping a beat. They are a nurseryman's best friend in this regard. I've even moved a couple when they'd already begun leafing out in spring, knocked off the soil from the roots because they were in in-ground growing bags and clay soil that made them too heavy for me to deal with. I threw them into my truck, drove them 100 miles on a clear dry day without protecting the roots in any way, yet, by mid- summer they were completely recovered. At the time I wasn't really expecting them to even live.

    So you can ignore my experience, but if you always do things by the book there's a lot you will never learn.

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