How to Transplant a Blue Atlas Cedar


Blue atlas cedar, known botanically as Cedrus atlantica, is an evergreen tree with a pronounced blue-green to blue-gray color made more dramatic by the dusty or matte finish of the needle-like foliage. The trees are grown primarily as landscape specimen ornamentals or in multiples to provide screening. They are hardy in USDA zones 6 through 8 and will adapt to most soil conditions provided the site is well-drained.

Step 1

Select a transplant site to accommodate the blue cedar at its mature size so moving the tree and pruning for size will never be necessary. Allow 60 feet in overhead clearance and 20 feet from the central trunk in circumferential clearance. Leaving the tree uncrowded will provide the roots room to spread and will also show off its graceful pyramidal form to best effect. Choose a full sun or partially shaded site that is protected from the wind.

Step 2

Excavate a planting hole in well-drained and lightly acidic to neutral soil that is twice the diameter and a foot deeper than the container the tree has been growing. Loosen the soil in the bottom of the hole to ease the entry of the new roots.

Step 3

Mix generous amounts of good quality compost and well aged manure into the planting hole and the excavated soil. Add a dose of complete, slow-release fertilizer for acid-loving plants with a guaranteed analysis of 15-9-12. Divide the label-recommended dose of fertilizer between between the hole and the excavated soil sitting to the side of the hole, mixing it evenly into each batch of soil.

Step 4

Remove your blue atlas cedar from the container by tilting the tree and pulling gently. Set the tree into the hole adding or subtracting soil as needed under the root ball to bring the top of the root ball level or just barely proud of the surrounding soil.

Step 5

Back fill the excavated soil soil halfway up the sides of the root ball. Tamp down the soil with your shovel or foot to secure the tree in place and ensure good root to soil contact. Water the soil and root ball until nearly drenched.

Step 6

Fill in the hole with the remaining amended soil. Tamp down the soil with your foot or shovel to compress it lightly. Water the area a second time to drench the surrounding soil at least 6 inches down. Water deeply at least once per week after transplanting to ensure the soil is evenly moist at all times and never dry beyond the top 1/3 to 1/2 inch.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Aged manure
  • Slow-release granular fertilizer 15-9-12
  • Water


  • East Tennesee State University: Tree of the Week
  • University of Florida IFAS and U.S. Forestry Service: Cedrus atlantica
Keywords: blue Atlantic cedar evergreen, transplanting evergreen trees, relocating cedar trees

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.