Successful Tips for Transplanting Volunteer (wild) Dogwood Trees

This sapling will have morning shade from the trees and house to the east of it.
Today was our first beautiful spring day.  Mid 60's and partly sunny.  In our experience the perfect day to transplant a wild or volunteer Dogwood tree.  I base this on the fact that it is commonly thought that they are extremely difficult to transplant from the wild but this is our fourth transplant with no failures thus far!

Our daffodils are in full bloom.
Our yard is wooded, especially the back and we tend to like it having that woodsy ambiance.  The fact we have numerous old Dogwoods accounts for the volunteers.   The first point that leads to success is to transplant very very early in the spring before the young sapling has leaves that give any more than the appearance of tiny needles.

Next the smaller the sapling the more chance of success you will have.  I would not recommend much more than a good inch in diameter for the thickness of the trunk and smaller is better.  Dogwood trees are shallow rooted but still you need the largest root ball you can maneuver.  Prepare the hole you are transferring into  by measuring the depth and width of the root ball and planting it exactly even to the ground.  You also would be wise to break up the soil at the bottom and sides of the hole to help the new roots grow into the new spot.

My last tip is to mark the tree before you remove it from it's original spot so you can place it into the new hole with it's sides all facing the same directions they previously were facing.  The tree we moved today was on the south side of the house.  I marked the southern most facing limb with a piece of tape so when we planted the sapling it was positioned as closely to the same direction as possible.

Dogwoods like acid soil and the protection of larger trees.  They will grow well under the canopy.  If planted in a sunny spot it will be happier if it is afforded at least partial shade.  Mulch is helpful in keeping the roots from drying out.  I am excited and hopeful this little tree will do as well as our past saplings have done.  Some of our neighbors have lovely Dogwoods from our yard!  My only concern is there looks to be something working on the trunk and I am heading to the lawn and garden center for some wound sealer to try to stop any further damage.  It would be a shame to loose it after all of this hard work.

Dogwood noon 7/25/13 viewing north,
Transplanted 3/16/13 photo update noon 7/25/13 looking to the south.
UPDATE:  This tree has done beautifully and this is a follow up to a comment today from a reader who liked the posting.  THANK YOU!  I had called our county agent upon planting this tree and we had concluded a deer had done a bit of rubbing on it and may have weakened it.  He said if the tree made it past June we were home free and here she is!!


esmond Perry said...

Nice blog...
Thanks for sharing about tree transplanting tips.
Keep it up

Henry Williamsonn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry Williamsonn said...

Large tree transplanting is a very danger do to and need a so much efforts to complete this task.

Don said...

THanks for the post. My son wants to transplant 30 or so dogwood sapplings from 12" to 8' high. We live just north of Boston and wonder if he could dig them up, wrap the root balls in burlap and transplant them either in late summer, fall.
If we weren't able to replant all of them in the fall, would they likely survive the winter with root ball in burlap?

Diane Cosby said...

Don. Here in Indiana I have never known of a fall transplanting of a volunteer Dogwood to make it. Now if you go buy a nursery tree they may be fine, I don't know. It is touchy to do yourself. I have never lost one using the method I have shared. Very important to do just as the leaves start to appear looking like tiny needles and to mark the N. S. E. W. positioning of the tree and keep the same upon moving. Good Luck to you!

Ebony Kleinman said...

I'm so glad that the transplant of your dogwood tree worked out so well! I've heard that the fall is also a good time to relocate plants because they're starting to shut down their systems in preparation for winter. That's good to know that early springtime will also work! I would worry about transplating larger trees since they have bigger root systems.