How to Transplant Perennial Plants


Perennial plants offer good value in the garden, as they only must be planted once then they return each year without the need to purchase more plants. Whether you grow your own perennial seedlings indoors for the garden or purchase seedlings from a nursery, you must transplant them out to the garden properly for them to thrive for the first year and beyond. Proper transplanting differs slightly between perennial varieties, but general methods apply to most plant types.

Step 1

Place your plants in a garden bed that meets the specific requirements of the type of perennial you are transplanting. Most perennials require full to partial sunlight and a well-draining bed. Lay a 2-inch layer of compost over the bed and till it to a 10-inch depth to aid drainage and soil nutrition in the garden.

Step 2

Set the perennial plants outdoors in a protected area one week before transplanting to the garden. Move them indoors at night or when temperatures drop below freezing. Gradually move them into direct sunlight over the week so they become accustomed slowly to outdoor conditions.

Step 3

Tap the sides of the plant's pot to loosen the soil and root ball. Grasp the perennial by the stem near the soil surface. Grasp the pot with the other hand and pull it off the root ball. If the plant won't dislodge from the pot, carefully cut the pot off with a utility knife.

Step 4

Dig a hole the same depth as the plants root ball and twice as wide. Set the perennial in the planting hole so it is at the same depth it was at in its nursery pot. Space the plants at the distance recommended on the seed packet or plant label.

Step 5

Water the plants at their base immediately after transplanting. This collapses any air pockets in the soil around the roots so that they immediately begin absorbing water and nutrients into their systems.

Tips and Warnings

  • Plants may wilt slightly in the days after transplanting. Care for them as recommended on the plant label and they will quickly bounce back.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Utility knife
  • Trowel


  • University of Illinois Extension: Perennials Planting and Transplanting
Keywords: transplanting perennials, growing perennial plants, new gardens

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.