Most plants are susceptible to stress after transplanting. The term ‘transplant shock’ refers to the strain plants undergo when they are moved from their current location (which may be a container, or a spot in your garden), and planted in a different place. Transplant shock is usually a result of failed root establishment in the new spot. If you follow certain precautions and avoid some common mistakes, you can make transplanting a positive experience for your plant.
Buy healthy plants from the nursery. You must thoroughly inspect the plant for any signs of disease or poor growth. You can request the nursery staff to show the roots of the plant as well. The roots are a reliable indicator of the plant’s health, and must be healthy and abundant in growth.
Try to transplant during late fall or early spring. This is the time when plants are dormant in their growth, and transplanting is most successful. Avoid sunny and windy days and choose a cloudy, cool day to transplant. Also, make sure the plant is not placed in direct sunlight for a few days after transplanting.
Transplant in the evening and place the plant in a shaded place for a few days after transplanting. Alternatively, you can place the plant under fluorescent lights.
Ready the new location before you remove the plant from the container. This is essential to avoid overexposure of the root to air or light, which can dry out the rootball very quickly. If you are transplanting to another pot or container, make sure it is large enough to accommodate the growing roots. However, it should not be over-sized, either.
Water the new location thoroughly, so that the soil is moist, but not soggy. Then, dig out a hole that is about the same size of the container your plant is in.
When you take the plant out of the container, make sure you are very gentle. Do not try to forcefully pry out the plant. Lay the container on the ground on its side. Tap or press around the bottom of the plant container, and try to loosen the soil.
Gently pull the plant out, bringing as much as the root out as possible, without breaking. Place the rootball in the hole you dug out.
Fill the space around the rootball with soil. Press the soil gently, making sure there is enough space for root aeration and water flow.
Watering the rootball adequately is critical to successful transplanting. Take care to stop before the soil becomes soggy. Too much water will inhibit the flow of oxygen to the roots.
Depending on the amount of rainfall you receive, and the type of soil you have, ensure that the plant is getting adequate water. Never over-water, as this can lead to water-logging and destroy the plant. Well-drained soils require more water than soils with less drainage.
For about a year after transplanting, avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers that speed plant growth. Make sure that the plant has established a strong root system first.
Carefully inspect the plant regularly for any signs of disease or pest infestation, and provide immediate treatment in case of any symptoms.