How to Transplant a Sassafras Tree

What You'll Need
Organic Compost
What You'll Need
Organic Compost

The sassafras tree with its unique orange bark is one of those easily recognizable trees. Its leaves are similar to those of a maple tree but with rounded edges. While their shape may be irregular, the brilliant colors they display in the fall can only be categorized as breathtaking.

Sassafras tree roots are used to make sassafras tea, while the oil from the leaves were once used in root beer. Today the leaves are used to make spices for many different Cajun recipes. They attract a wide variety of wildlife including honeybees, songbirds and butterflies. Because the sassafras tree is easy to grow it is a favorite among many gardeners. However, transplanting them can be a little tricky because of the long tap root. Here are some steps to follow when transplanting the sassafras tree.

Step 1: Choose the Right Spot

The great thing about a Sassafras tree is that you do not have a stringent list of soil conditions that need to be met. As long as the soil is well drained and sunny, your young tree will do very well. They do not like very soggy conditions. A high ground that has good runoff would be perfect.

Step 2: Choose the Right Tree

When transplanting the sassafras tree you will need to make sure that you choose a young tree that has not yet developed a large tap root. If you decide to just go out into the woods and dig one up from there you will be surprised at how long it can be. A general rule of thumb is that there is as much root under the ground as there is tree above the ground.

Step 3: Dig around Tree

If you bought your tree from a nursery, you can skip this step. However, if you are moving a young tree or going to use one from the forest, you will need to take great precautions in digging the tree up. The tap root in the tree will not tolerate any type of cutting into or damage. Dig a wide radius. Measure the diameter of the trunk and use that same measurement as feet in ground clearance. For example, if the trunk measures 3 inches, you will need to dig out 3 feet around the tree.

Step 4: Lift out Tree

Once the tree is dug up, life it out of the ground and place on wet burlap. Tie it around the root system of the tree. Keep it moist if it is going to be out of the ground for too long.

Step 5: Dig Hole for Transplanting

Move the tree to the area you are going to be placing it and dig a hole that is double the size in both depth and width. Fill in the bottom of the hole with organic compost and mix it with the soil. Water the area until it is wet.

Step 6: Plant Tree

Slide the sassafras tree into the hole and fill it with the soil. Do not pack it in too tightly, but tight enough to keep the tree standing straight. Fertilize the ground around the tree and water the soil.