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How to Transplant a Viburnum Bush

viburnum leaf backlit image by cullenphotos from

Viburnum is a medium-sized, spring flowering shrub that grows in most locations across the U.S. Hardy and easy to grow, its four-season interest makes it a popular choice as hedging, in group plantings or as a specimen. Most viburnum, however, are not self-pollinating and require a different variety in order to produce fruit. Gardeners can transplant viburnum easily because they have a fibrous root system and readily take up supplemental water, thus increasing transplant success.

Prepare for Transplanting

Check your calendar. Woody shrubs like viburnum should be transplanted in early spring, after the ground has thawed. Viburnum can be transplanted in late fall after the leaves have dropped, but in some colder parts of the country, success is less likely.

Choose your location. Viburnum bushes flower most abundantly in full sun but can tolerate light shade. Avoid deep shade and boggy, poorly drained areas.

Water the shrub before transplanting. Three to five days before digging, water for at least 30 minutes.

Lay a tarp next to the site and dig a hole based on the root ball of your transplant. Your root ball will depend on the size of your transplant; generally, it will be about the same as the branch spread of the shrub. Put the excavated dirt on the tarp.

Add one part peat and one part compost to two parts of the excavated soil. If the soil is very sandy or heavy with clay, increase the peat and compost to an even 1-to-1-to-1 mix.

Remove Viburnum

Place an additional tarp next to the proposed transplant.

Dig a trench around the perimeter of the shrub, using the spread of the branches as a guide. Insert a pointed shovel or spade at a 45-degree angle, cutting through any surface roots.

Force the shovel under the plant to sever all main roots. The hole should be at least 15 to 24 inches deep. Insert the shovel or pry bar directly beneath the shrub and press the handle down to dislodge the remaining roots.

Grab the main trunk of the viburnum bush and pull it from the ground. Carefully place the shrub on the tarp and drag it to its new location. Do not let the roots dry out; if you are unable to complete the transplanting, water and cover the root ball and move the bush to a shady location.

Put the transplant into the newly dug hole. Be sure the bush will sit at the same height as it did in its previous location. Make any needed adjustments and fill the hole with the prepared soil mixture. Reserve any extra soil to fill in air pockets that may be revealed after watering.

Pack the soil down firmly and water for at least one hour. The soil may sink as air pockets fill; use the reserved soil to fill these depressions.

Water regularly during the first year. When the soil is dry at a depth of 3 or 4 inches, water for one hour. Mulch with bark, wood chips or straw to retain moisture.


Call before you dig: a federally mandated law requires that you contact local authorities to determine the location of underground utilities. Call 811 to have your underground utilities mapped and marked at no charge.

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