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How to Transplant a Flowering Purple Plum Shrub

shoveling image by Pix by Marti from

Flowering purple plum shrub, also known as purple leaf plum and purple leaf sandy cherry, is an ornamental flowering deciduous shrub suitable for a hedge in USDA zones 2 to 8. Red leaves appear in early spring followed by white flowers. It’s the plum color the leaves turn in the fall that gives this shrub its name. Small, plum-colored berries also appear in the fall. A purple leaf plum shrub can grow up to 8 feet tall. Transplant the purple leaf plum shrub, making sure nutrient and moisture needs are met. Transplanting can occur in early spring before the shrub buds or in the fall after the leaves drop.

Preparing the Destination Hole

Choose a full-to-part-sun location. If transplanting more than one purple leaf plum shrub, allow 3 feet between the shrubs.

Dig the hole at least 24 inches wide, 18 inches deep, in anticipation of the size of the transplant’s root ball. To reduce shock to the shrub, it’s important to immediately place the dug-up shrub in its new location, so having a hole at least partially dug will lessen the amount of time the shrub is out of the ground.

Place the dirt removed from the hole onto a tarp or in a wheelbarrow. Mix in up 25 percent organic matter, such as compost or leaf mold.

Removing the Shrub

Water the shrub well two day before it will be dug up for transplanting if the ground is dry.

Measure the widest point of the shrub using the handle of the spade as a gauge (or with a tape measure); 1/3 of that length is how far from the trunk of the shrub that digging will start.

Wrap the lower portion of the shrub with a tarp or sheet to hold them out of the way to make digging easier.

Thrust the spade into the ground 1/3 of the width of the shrub’s branches away from the trunk using the measurement from Step 2. Continue around the shrub at the same distance, thrusting the spade into the ground. The spade will cut any roots outside the circumference.

Dig underneath the shrub to a depth of about 15 inches for a shrub less than 4 feet tall and up to 24 inches for a shrub up to 8 feet tall. The variation is based on how deep the roots might be. If transplanting in the spring, retaining dirt on the root ball is not as critical as transplanting in the fall. The fall-transplanted shrub should have its root ball wrapped in a tarp, sheet, shower curtain or other wrap to retain as much soil as possible. Transport the shrub to the destination hole.

Planting the Removed Shrub

Measure the height and width of the root ball of the removed shrub and adjust the destination hole as needed. The crown of the shrub, where the trunk meets the roots should be at ground level. The width of the hole should be twice as wide as the root ball to make root penetration easier.

Place the transplant into the center of the hole and back-fill the hole half way. Water to settle the soil and then finish back-filling the hole. Water again.

Apply 3 to 4 inches of mulch, such as compost or wood chips, around the base of the shrub, keeping the mulch 6 inches from the trunk. Remove the protective wrap.

Water every 10 to 14 days if there is no rainfall, until the temperature is consistently below freezing.


Call your local utility company to check for underground cables or pipes before digging.

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