Tips for Transplanting a Forsythia

A yellow forsythia.
What You'll Need
Garden soil

Forsythia is one of those hardy plants that will take all the punishment you can give — and then come back for more. The following provides a guide with tips to help you transplant your forsythia.

Root Ball

As with any transplantation, the size of the root ball is the controlling factor. To get the best quality roots, you need to encourage some new root growth, so plan your move well in advance. The best way to do this is to prune the roots while the plant is still fairly active.

Dig a trench about twenty inches from the base of the plant, cutting the roots in the process. Refill the trench with a rich mixture of garden compost and soil. The cut roots will start to regenerate and this will give you new roots to transplant. Make sure you know the outer edge of the trench because that is where you will dig to lift the plant.

Lifting the Plant

When the plant is dormant in winter, prepare the new site by digging a hole slightly bigger than you think you will need in the new location. The plant needs to be dug out with the outer edge of the trench as the marker for where to start digging.

Use a sheet of sacking to rest the plant on after you have removed it and secure it so that the roots and soil are well contained. The plant can be carried to the new location and lowered into the hole. You can leave the sacking on the root ball because it will slowly rot while it protects the roots. Set the plant firmly in its new position and fill any gaps around the root ball.

If there has not been any frost, it would be a good idea to water the forsythia every day or two, being careful not to soak the soil. Don’t water once the frost arrives.

First Year

After the first winter, the plant will recover slowly. However, the new roots that you encouraged will help to speed the recovery process. Water the plant once a week and make sure the soil does not dry out. You will know your transplantation has been successful as soon as you see the first green bud.

Moving in the Spring

If you really cannot wait for the winter to move the forsythia, you can take a chance and move it in spring or summer. Forsythia is a remarkably tough plant and can withstand rough treatment.

Lift the Plant

Dig the plant up with as much root as possible and wrap the root ball in sacking. Keep the sacking moist.

Dig the transplant site hole larger than the root ball and line it with a rich mixture of garden compost and soil. Put the plant into the hole and then fill all the gaps with the compost and soil mixture.

This is a very abrupt move and the plant will suffer shock and be slow to recover, but keep the soil moist and it should pick up after five or six weeks.

It is important to transplant your forsythia properly. Follow this guide and it will survive the move.