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Transplanting flowers into the back yard.

How To Prevent Transplant Shock

Excerpted from: Minimize Transplant Shock

Transplant shock loss can take all the fun out when plants and trees don’t grow or show the same vigor. Plants and trees are designed to stay in one place. They put down roots, deep or wide, and remain there until they die. It is us who move them around.

When plants move from one place or area to another, it’s a shock. It’s difficult to watch newly planted plants adjust to the new environment. Sometimes plants wilt after transplant. Other plants die as a result of the move and you can call it death from transplant shock.

  What Is Transplant Shock?

Potted plants at a garden center.

Transplant shock is caused by harm to the plant roots, during the transplanting process. It could result in death, or the plant wilting after transplant. Plant shock happens to seedlings, bedding plants, trees and yes even cannabis plants.

While the thickest roots are closest to the root ball, the most important roots are those necessary for the plant to survive and thrive, are farthest from the plant. These minor roots are like thin, tiny hairs which absorb the majority of the water spread throughout the soil away from the plant.

  Preventing Transplant Shock

7 strategies to minimize plant or tree transplant shock by taking preventative measures.

1. Timing is everything.

The beginning of spring or the end of fall are the safest times and provide the best conditions to transplant using almost any technique. Do not attempt any plant transplant on summer days, especially field grown plants. Experts recommend doing it in the late afternoon when the sun no longer gives extreme heat and the wind is already calm.

Container plants transplant easier than trees, seedlings, and shrubs especially if you know the soil and other basics of gardening.

2. Avoid disturbing plant roots.

Onion plant with roots. When you dig or move the plants, you will probably have to bother the roots a bit. Minimize the impact as much as possible. Try to keep the root ball intact and don’t shake out the soil when moving the plant. Also, make sure the root ball remains moist.

3. Location, location, location.

Make sure you choose a location that fits the plant’s needs and the appropriate depth in the ground. Consider the amount of sun, soil drainage, and quality.

3. Water the plants carefully.

Plants need water to survive, so give them plenty of watering immediately after moving. After transplanting, the plant’s root system will experience some damage and need to recover. Watering makes a very important step to increase the defense of your plants or trees against transplant shock.

Water plants and trees immediately and religiously afterwards, considering their watering needs.

4. Apply a rooting hormone

Encourage root development by using a rooting hormone. Hormones are critical for plant development and growth

Read more: How To Use Rooting Hormones

5. Apply Epsom salts.

Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) in a rustic wooden scoop.

Feed transplants with Epsom salt once they’re in their new environment to help injured roots overcome transplant shock. Remember to add a layer of soil on top of salt sprinkled in holes so roots don’t come into direct contact with these concentrated minerals right away.

It is almost impossible to use too much Epsom salt in your garden.

Read more: How To Use Epsom Salts

6. Use mycorrhizae fungi.

Application of endomycorrhizae fungi lessens transplant shock. When plant roots are colonized or coated with mycorrhizal fungi, it limits access to the roots by other harmful pests, fungi, or diseases

Read more: Benefits of Adding Mycorrhizae Fungi

7. Keep an 'eagle eye' on transplants.

Sometimes newly transplanted material is attacked by pests and insects. A plant in shock doesn’t need the extra stress bugs deliver. Keep a careful eye on your transplanted plants, be cognizant of the plant wilting after transplant and be ready to adjust and to help get your plants off to a good start in its new location.

Read more: DIY Safe Pesticides

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