How to Transplant Plants in Spring


Although fall is arguably the best time to transplant perennial plants in your garden, gardeners may also opt to move plants in spring. Mild weather and soil moisture may work in your favor during spring, with the added benefit of a full growing season ahead during which the transplant can re-establish healthy roots.

Step 1

Pick a location for the new transplant with the correct sunlight levels and excellent drainage.

Step 2

Prepare the soil by incorporating up to four inches of organic matter, such as composted pine bark, to a depth of 12 inches. Add a 5-10-5 fertilizer at this time, at a rate of 2 pounds over 100 square feet.

Step 3

Dig a hole about twice as wide as the plant you will be moving, and only as deep as necessary to keep the crown of the plant at surface level.

Step 4

Dig a wide circle around the plant, taking care not to cut any large roots as you dig.

Step 5

Lift the plant out of the ground, using a garden fork if necessary.

Step 6

Set the plant in the hole, ensuring that it sits at the same level it did in the previous location.

Step 7

Backfill the hole with the prepared soil, tamping lightly as you fill without compacting the soil around the roots.

Step 8

Cover the planting bed with up to three inches of organic mulch, such as composted pine needles, to help retain soil moisture and deter weeds. Avoid allowing mulch to touch the crown of the plant during the growing season, as this may encourage the spread of disease.

Step 9

Water transplants well, keeping the soil moist as they establish roots throughout spring. Monitor rainfall and adjust watering accordingly, with at least one deep soaking at the roots per week.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Garden fork
  • 5-10-5 fertilizer
  • Organic compost
  • Organic mulch


  • University of Illinois Extension: Gardening With Perennials
  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service: Growing Perennial Flowers
  • Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: General Maintenance of Herbaceous Ornamentals
Keywords: transplanting plants, spring transplanting, spring transplant care

About this Author

Desirae Roy holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, with a focus on reading and special education. Also an interpreter for the deaf, she facilitates communication for students who learn in an inspiring way. Roy cultivates a life long love of learning and enjoys sharing her journey with others through writing.