So, as a first-time gardener, I of course made tons of mistakes planning my flower beds. Terrible locations, didn't think things through right, etc. The worst is probably a hibiscus near the front of the bed (among low-growers) that has gotten around 6 feet tall. It dominates the entire bed and needs to be moved to an edge of the yard, say along a fence, where it can be part of the backdrop instead of a visual obstruction.

But I don't want to kill it. It's doing really, really well where it is.

I'm worried that: (1) it's roots are probably enormous, and trying to move it may kill the plant outright; (2) if moved now, it may not have enough time to re-settle its roots before winter hits, and might just die out before spring.

(I'm in TN, Zone 7, and we typically get a little snow. Got down to 0 degrees F last winter, averaged around 20-30.)

So when's the best time to uproot and move plants? Is there anything in particular I should know before going in? Should I intentionally trim it down to give it less plant to try and "feed" in the new spot, or would that make things worse?

Total newbie here.

  • 1
    I agree with stormy, I'll add that a trick some people use to insure good roots for a replant is to take a shovel and go in a circle around the base of the plant, where you intent to dig it up and push it straight down, as deep as it will got. What this does is it severs the roots that are growing out and causes the plant to put out a bunch of smaller roots inside of this circle while the deeper roots feed the plant. You wait 1-3 months and then come back and dig it up, with a bunch of good roots. I might do the cutting now and move in the spring. Either way should work, though.
    – Dalton
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 19:58

2 Answers 2


The best time to dig up plants and replant is in the fall! This allows energy to be funneled to roots. Do it before the ground freezes! Right now you could dig a trench a foot or so in radius from the base of your shrub. Fill with straw. This will start feeder roots closer to the base and get your shrub ready to be transplanted. Keep moist not wet. Dig your hole where you want to transplant making sure! you do not dig deeper than the distance from the bottom of the root ball to the base of the shrub. You don't want any settling. That line between the bark which needs to stay above ground and mulch and the beginning of the roots is critical. Water well, don't mess with staking. Your hibiscus should make the transition just fine!


I'd say the best time to move plants is in the spring, before the buds break. You can do what stormy says about getting it ready with feeder roots. Could go to your local nursery and ask them for advise too, since they should know what pertains to your climate better.

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