Most of you at some point have had to transplant trees

A plant wilting due to transplant shock!

A plant wilting due to transplant shock!

, shrubs or vegetable plants from the comfort of warmer indoors during cold weathers to outdoors when the sun starts shining brightly on a daily basis. The process is pretty much mundane to most but it is nevertheless a petrifying experience for anyone because there is a possibility of the transplanted plant undergoing a transplant shock. Yes sadly, transplant shock is a big reality in the plant world but is very much manageable. The bottom line is that there are things you can and should do to help out the transplants so that the probability of a successful relocation is good. Before you read tips or go through step by step instructions, it would be good for you to understand what exactly happens to a plant when it is transplanted. Knowledge never hurts, they say!

The Root of the Problem

It is inevitable that the plant you move will experience a transplant shock to some extent. This is just the plant reacting to its move. Just how when you finish eating food, you actually haven’t completely finished because there will always be minute bits remaining… Well, bad analogy, but I hope you get the gist. Now, by treating the plant carefully like you would your kids (I’m strongly assuming) you can minimize the shock such that the plant can cope with the change easily. Ok, back to the subject.

This shock is generally due to damage to the roots. The thickest roots are closest to the root ball below the stem of the plant but these are not the ones you should be too worried about. The thin fragile ones far from this root ball are more important in that they are responsible for doing the actual work which is absorbing nutrients and water with the help of tiny hair like structures. While transplanting, these tiny hairs are damaged, usually by being cut during the uprooting of the plant or by drying out (it has been reported that as less as 3-4 minutes of exposure to air kills them) or simply by being jarred and jostled around while transplanting. If these feeder roots are damaged naturally the plant suffers from lack of nutrients and water and thus goes into a transplant shock.

Besides this major root issue, plants can sense changes in temperature, wind speeds, light intensities and other physical conditions and take time to acclimatize themselves, like any other living organism would! This whole acclimatization process also affects the rate of nutrient and water uptake.  Ha, I can tell that by now you have a few ideas of your own to make your next transplant a success. Told you, knowledge never hurts!

In any case the following symptoms are likely to follow. The plant may grow rapidly for a short time and then abruptly stop growing. Or it may grow reservedly all season and produce buds that barely break into stunted small leaves. In very severe cases the buds may not break at all! There may be unusual development of leaves and stems in some transplants undergoing shock. Leaves that immediately start browning at the tips are also a sign of transplant shock. More often than not, transplant shock symptoms mimic those of insect trouble and plant diseases.

No reason to fret though, the success rate of transplants is high when done right!