What is Transplant Shock?

Transplant shock can occur when a plant is moved from one location to another.  It generally happens to all plants but in most it is unnoticeable.  Some may sulk for a few days, others relish the new location and soil (if it was better than the site they’ve just left!).  Symptoms can vary from just a mild and temporary discolouration of leaves, to complete leaf loss and in some situations death (prepare yourself for a few deaths as this in inevitable when planting up a new garden).

What are the signs of transplant shock?

  • Unseasonal yellowing of leaves
  • Total or partial loss of leaves
  • Wilting
  • Dieback of tips and in some cases complete branches
  • Complete browning of the plant

How many of my plants will be affected by transplant shock?

When planting up a new whole new garden we’d estimate around 10% of the plants may suffer in one way or another, some just losing colour or leaves and in some instances the plant will not recover and will need replacing.  This is a normal part of establishing a new garden and should be expected as part of the project costs.  Some plants, particularly evergreen shrubby ones, are slower to establish than others, so some will show immediate signs of stress, and for others it may take over a year whilst they try and battle to survive.

How can transplant shock be prevented?

Whilst every effort is taken to minimise disruption caused by transplant shock/death, unfortunately it’s not something that can be totally prevented, but it can be minimised by following good horticultural practice such as using the correct supply method for the time of year.  An example of this would be planting during the success season, these are as follows:

  • Containerised plants – Those grown in pots and be planted all year round except in frozen or waterlogged soils
  • Root-balled plants – These must be planted between early November and no later than the end of March (unless they were lifted during these months and have been stored properly) – Hessian root protection MUST NOT be removed at the time of planting!
  • Bare root plants – Planted between November and March – We add mycorrhizal fungi and find it works exceptionally well when establishing a new rooting system.

Are some plants more susceptible to it than others?

Yes.  Many large evergreens such as Holly and Yew, Viburnum, Laurel and Rhododendrons can be affected and are probably the worst offenders as they are very slow to die (sometimes taking over a year) and may be tricky to replace (if large machinery is required).  Lavender can also suffer when planted as a large plant, so we’d normally recommend planting a smaller specimen, allowing it to grow.

Any affected deciduous and herbaceous plants may wilt and or lose their leaves, but most will recover just fine.

What should I do about plants that die?

Plants that do eventually die can usually be easily replaced but there’s a few things to consider:

  • Timing – is it the right time of year to plant (for example, root-balled Yew may die in the early summer and not be available to re plant until the following November).
  • Cost – It doesn’t make sense to replace things ‘as and when’ they die, as this becomes expensive in terms of labour and delivery charges.  Its better to replace in chunks following a garden review.
  • It’s fine to replant with the same species if only the odd one has died, but all or most of them have gone, there will be some investigation required – maybe it wasn’t the right plant for that location (eg it receives more sun/shade than originally thought) or the soil is too wet/dry.

Do you offer a guarantee against it?

Yes, we can offer a guarantee against transplant shock, simply add 10% to your plant supply and delivery invoice.  Please note that we will only replace plants at one of your regular aftercare visits and can only offer this service if an irrigation has been installed and is managed by us.