How to Transplant a Smoketree


Smoketrees produce masses of puffy blossoms resembling small puffs of smoke along its branches. These pinkish blossoms appear in the spring. Smoketrees grow an average of 15 feet in height and about 12 feet in width, forming a bushy, rounded shape in moderate and warm climates. The leaves of this tree turn attractive shades of yellow, red and purple in the fall. Transplant your smoketree from its nursery pot or its previous location to a sunny area with well drained soil.

Step 1

Transplant your smoketree on a cloudy day in the early spring. Dig an existing tree from the ground with a sharp spade. Try to include the majority of the roots when digging. Most trees establish a root system similar in circumference to their canopies. Cut through the soil near the outer edge of the overhead canopy to include the majority of the roots.

Step 2

Set a tarp next to your smoketree. Carefully lift the loosened root ball and place it onto the center of the tarp, then lift the edges of the tarp to form a bundle around the root ball. Transplant the tree by lifting its root ball or carrying a potted tree by its pot. Avoid lifting your smoketree by its branches or trunk.

Step 3

Dig the hole for your smoketree. Make the hole wide enough for the entire root ball without causing crowding. Make the hole deep enough to place the surface of the root ball level with the surface of the existing soil. Do not plant your smoketree in a depression or build the soil above the root ball. This type of tree suffers when soil covers the portion of trunk above the root ball. Backfill with soil to create a level area around the tree. Tamp down the soil to remove any remaining pockets of air.

Step 4

Water your smoketree to soak the soil near the roots. Apply about 3 inches of mulch over the buried roots to hold in moisture. Continue to water your transplanted tree every couple of weeks during the growing season for the first couple of years. Do not allow the soil to become dry near the roots. Allow your garden hose to run slowly and soak the area near the tree until the moisture reaches the depth of the roots. Determine the correct amount of water by digging a small hole near the roots and checking for moisture at this level the first couple of times you water.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Tarp
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Mulch


  • Washington State University: How to Transplant Trees and Shrubs Successfully
  • Yale University: American Smoketree or Chittamwood
  • North Carolina State University: Smoketree
  • University of Florida: American Smoketree
Keywords: smoketree, transplant smoketree, transplant trees

About this Author

Laura Dee is a writer, artist, and the co-owner of Wallace & Wallace Copywriting,an online business which specializes in providing marketing materials and copy to various companies. She has written for Demand Studios since 2008 and is currently working on a series of childrens' picture books.