Move trees and shrubs in fall

Fall is the perfect time to move trees and shrubs in the Rogue Valley, so if you want to relocate a tree or shrub in your yard, or divide some crowded perennials, now is the time to do it.

The weather is cooler and more moist, which means less transplant shock. Roots have stored energy for next year's growth, and upcoming winter rains will keep your plants watered.

If your perennials are still blooming — chrysanthemums or autumn joy sedum, for example — those can wait until later in the winter or early spring to be divided. But poppies, candytuft, bergenia, daisies and other spring or early-summer bloomers should be divided now. This is also the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs.

Clay soils can be a challenge in the Rogue Valley, of course, so you may want to do some soil amending for perennials and bulbs. To do it, mix in generous amounts of compost with the existing soil, to a depth of at least a foot. If you use only compost or potting soil around the roots of your transplanted perennial, it's like planting in a clay pot — the roots will find it difficult to penetrate the sides of the planting hole.

As you divide the "mother plant" of perennials, make the divisions large enough to avoid a serious setback of the new plants. Discard any parts that look diseased or too old to grow vigorously. There is no need to fertilize plants at this time, but add some bone meal to the bulb bed.

Contrary to the philosophy of amending the soil for perennials, it is recommended that transplanted trees not have any amendments added. Plant them in a hole that is generously larger than the original one, and backfill with the broken-up native soil. It also helps to take as much soil as possible with the tree or shrub you are moving to help keep the roots moist and undisturbed. It is critical that you do not let the tips of the roots dry out.

Plant the tree or shrub at the same depth it was growing before being moved. We often have a tendency to plant it deeper, which can be a literal killer of trees.

This is not the time to do severe pruning. Remove only dead wood and broken branches. While light corrective pruning is OK, wait until spring to see how the shrub or tree leafs out before doing any other pruning. Severe pruning, or shearing, will encourage new growth now, which will then be subject to winterkill.

As spring nears, I'll discuss how to purchase and plant new perennials, shrubs and trees for your yard.

Coming up: This is the last week to register for the all-day gardening seminar Winter Dreams, Summer Gardens, sponsored by Jackson County Master Gardeners. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, at the RCC/SOU Higher Education Center, 101 Bartlett St., in Medford. There are 40 classes from which to choose, including pruning, raising worms, battling weeds and landscape design. In other words, there's something for everyone. Call 541-776-7371 for class descriptions and a registration packet.

Carol Oneal is a past president of the OSU Jackson County Master Gardeners Association. E-mail her at

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