transplanting wild indigo/baptisia

quattromom's picture

Hi!  I was hoping someone could give me some info about transplanting wild indigo/baptisia.  Our elderly neighbor recently moved and gave us the green light to transplant any of the perrenials in her overgrown garden.  There is a (mature) clump of baptisia which has sprouted within the past week and I would love to transplant it but I have heard it does not take well to being moved.  I know this plant is quite a few years old.  I have also started some from seed indoors which are doing great, I'd just like to take advantage of the mature plant which will be all but forgotten by the fall when the house goes on the market.  Any ideas about when would be the best time to attempt a transplant?  We have a great, sunny spot with well drained soil which I would like to move it to.

jeana's picture

(post #9633, reply #1 of 11)

If you can wait till fall, that would be far better. It truly is like moving a shrub. It has very deep roots. I've moved it, but moving one that was about 3 years old wasn't bad. I've never made the attempt to dig or divide a mature clump. If it were me, I'd root prune it now. That would get the horizontal roots shortened without shocking it too much. It'll still have the vertical roots untouched. The horizontal roots will recover and be more fibrous within the cut area to help it settle in a new home better. If you HAVE to move it before fall, dig a good foot away from the outside edge of the clump and do your best to move it with the rootball intact. Remember to dig deep to get as much of the tap root as possible.

Jeana Never try to baptize a cat.
quattromom's picture

(post #9633, reply #2 of 11)

Thanks for your advice!  I will definitely try to wait until the fall  (September?) I'm a bit of a novice with this type of transplanting, though.  How do you root prune? 

jeana's picture

(post #9633, reply #3 of 11)

About 1' from the edge of the plant, plunge a shovel, in a circle, all the way around the plant, as deep as the head of the shovel. You're not digging, just cutting a circle around the plant. It'll help reduce the shock of being uprooted in the fall.

Jeana Never try to baptize a cat.
quattromom's picture

(post #9633, reply #4 of 11)

Thanks Jeana!

fishercat's picture

(post #9633, reply #5 of 11)

Oh boy... good luck. I have a baptisia in my yard that is beautiful, but has gotten HUGE. It flops over everything, and no amount of plant supports really help. I tried to just cut out some of it this spring, just as the shoots were coming up. I needed a hatchet to cut through the crown! Seriously. I did get about a quarter of it out, and hope that brings it down to a more reasonable size. I did start one from a small sprout I dug off the edge, and that's doing fine, so, you might just try to get a good sized clump off--either in the spring, or in the fall (cut the plant back first), or---stick with the sprouted ones, and send the old one off to a memory.. Good luck.

quattromom's picture

(post #9633, reply #6 of 11)

I'm thinking I might try your suggestions of taking off a clump.  I root pruned it last week (as per Jeana's suggestion) when the shoots were about 2" high.  However at this point it doesn't seem to be a very concentrated clump; more like  about 6 shoots in about a 2' x1'stretch.  This might be a bit premature and misleading, maybe it will fill in more within the next couple of weeks.  Regardles, I think I will need to divide the plant and not attempt to dig it out in one giant root ball.  Would you recommend Sept?  How far back would you cut it before attempting to divide and tranplant?

jeana's picture

(post #9633, reply #7 of 11)

They send up all their shoots essentially all at the same time. Yours may have a few offspring around it, making it look like it's one clump spread out.

Jeana Never try to baptize a cat.
fishercat's picture

(post #9633, reply #8 of 11)

I have my plant here in the mountains in NH, so by the end of Sept I just cut the stems right off. If you had flowers in the spring you should have some rattly seed pods. I'd say my plant is about 2' across,and it is in kind of a wettish spot, so maybe that's why it gets so big. Good luck. They're a beautiful plant when in bloom

BDinMA's picture

(post #9633, reply #9 of 11)

Have you tried using peony hoops or a tomato cage? I put a cage on mine early, so it grows up through it, and that helps a lot. Not all the branches go through, but enough do so that there isn't a lot of weight from free branches. Once it leafs out well you can't even see the support.

fishercat's picture

(post #9633, reply #10 of 11)

I tried a peony hoop, but I think it wasn't sturdy enough--it all kind of leaned over after awhile. I'll try again. A tomato cage wasn't big enough around.I think I read somewhere to use old bike wheels and lash them onto strong sticks.sounds like a lot of work, but.... we'll see.

Apple Valley's picture

(post #9633, reply #11 of 11)

I read somewhere several years ago that if you cut the foliage back by about 1/3 after they bloom they don't flop.  I have done this for the last 2 years and it really works.  I use the hedge clippers, and just cut off about 1/3 of the leafy part.