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How to Transplant Japanese Holly

Japanese holly serves as a common foundation plant around older homes. This sturdy plant features wide evergreen leaves and produces a shiny black fruit. Japanese holly produces a small, inconspicuous flower that gets lost in the mass of green foliage. Gardeners prize Japanese holly for the durable foliage and small shape of this plant. Japanese holly should be carefully transplanted to a new area to ensure survival of the plant.

Schedule transplant for early summer after the Japanese holly has produced flowers. Transplanting at this time allows plenty of time during the summer growing season to ensure acclimation to a new location before winter.

Pick a location in the yard that mimics existing conditions as much as possible. The site should feature full to partial sun, good drainage and allow for further growth of the plant. Japanese holly can grow to 5 feet wide and 2 feet tall so select a permanent spot for the plant to avoid future transplants.

Prepare the planting site by digging down 18 inches with the shovel in a 5-foot area around the planting site. Turn over the soil and break up dirt clumps. Loosening allows the holly roots to spread readily through the soil.

Pour 2 to 3 inches of peat moss into the planting site and mix this soil additive with the existing soil. Peat moss adds organic components to the soil and improves drainage, an essential requirement for the Japanese holly.

Dig around the Japanese holly at a 2-foot distance from the main plant trunk. Begin removing soil to expose the roots. Take your time with digging to avoid damaging the existing root system. Japanese holly roots tend to travel about 10 to 12 inches deep into the soil bed.

Lift the plant carefully using the strong trunk and large limbs. Immediately move the plant to the new planting site. Roots shouldn't be allowed to dry so apply water if you're taking a break before transplanting the shrub.

Dig a hole at the new site about two times the size of the holly's root ball. Pour 3 inches of peat into the bottom of the planting hole.

Place the holly into the planting hole so the root ball lies 1 inch beneath the soil surface. Fill in around the roots with amended soil and press the soil firmly to release air pockets.

Water the transplant thoroughly and deeply using a garden hose directed at and around the base of the plant. Apply a 3- to 4-inch layer of shredded mulch to protect roots from extreme temperatures as the plant becomes adjusted to its new site. Water regularly during times of little rain to keep soil moisture even around the Japanese holly.

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