Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Replant Barberry Bushes

Barberry bushes are small shrubs with small blooms in the spring and showy fruits in the summer. You can replant–or transplant–your barberry bushes from a container or from an existing ground location. It is best to replant your barberry bushes in the spring before new growth appears or, as a second choice, in the fall just before the bush goes dormant. Barberry bushes prefer full sun or partial shade and are typically planted about 3 feet apart from one another, but this depends on variety. Wear gloves, pants and a long sleeve shirt when you replant your barberry bushes, since they tend to be prickly.

Dig out your existing barberry bush, if necessary. Start at least 1 foot around the perimeter of the bush and push down about 6 inches with your shovel. Then cut it at an angle toward the center of the plant. The goal is to get up some of the extending roots, as well as the root ball. Adjust the digging position based on what you feel with your shovel. If you feel lots of thick roots, dig out further from the plant and dig a bit deeper before cutting in. Alternatively, take the bush out of its container. Keep the soil intact.

Dig a hole that is two to three times as large as the main root ball. If you are replanting from a container, dig the hole two to three times as large as the container.

Mix in about 3 inches of compost into the dirt you just dug out. This will enrich the soil and make it drain water well. Also mix in about ½ cup (follow manufacturer directions) of 5-10-5 fertilizer into the soil.

Fill the hole with the newly amended soil so it is just as deep as the bush’s container or just as deep as the root ball.

Set the bush in the hole and spread out any roots; backfill the soil; then lightly tamp it down to remove any voids in the soil.

Water the bush well with about 2 to 3 inches of water. Keep the soil moist for the first year after replanting since insufficient water can cause your barberry bush to die.

Add 1 inch of organic mulch, such as bark or wood chips, to help the soil maintain water.

Fertilize your replanted barberry bush one month after planting–using a slow-release fertilizer labeled 8-8-8 or 12-6-6. Again, follow manufacturer directions for application process and dosing amounts, but typically about ½ cup per plant is sufficient.


Replant your dug-out barberry bush immediately. If not, set it in the shade and wrap wet burlap around its rootball to keep it from drying out.

Garden Guides