A friend is giving me some large hydrangea shrubs which I must move to my location. When is the best time to transplant them? They are huge! How much of the roots must I dig up? Send me all the information I need on transplanting.
Unless the friend is moving and you have to move them now, wait until the bulk of winter has passed and then move them in late February through mid March. They will be more winter hardy now with their roots intact. When you move them, get as much of a root ball as you can manage to move and get them in their new soil as soon as possible, planting them at the same depth they are currently growing. Make sure that you plant them where they get full morning sun and afternoon shade, or filtered sunlight. They won't bloom in heavy shade and they will wilt daily with full sun. You may have to thin them out a bit during the move, but remember that flowers are set and if you want blooms this first year in your yard, you want them as intact as possible. Water well the entire first year, and as needed thereafter. No fertilizer in the planting hole, but if you want deep pink flowers mix lime into the planting soil. If you want deep blue, mix in some wettable sulfur.
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