The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Babying a poorly rooted transplant

Pruning a transplant

Mom and I like to swap plants, so on her most recent visit, she brought me a sucker from a flowering quince bush and I gave her a few suckers from an elderberry bush.  None of the suckers had many roots, and the quince had a pretty tall stem.  Would it survive?

The first step when you end up with a perennial that has far more top growth than bottom growth is to whack back the stems to be more proportional to the roots.  You definitely want to remove any flower buds, too, since your little transplant shouldn't be worrying about reproduction this year.  (But feel free to put those bud-covered stems in a vase for a bit of early spring color inside.)

Forcing a quince flower

If you've got several plants like this, it's generally a good gamble to go ahead and plant them outside after pruning, but if you really want to make sure that each plant survives, throw it in a pot and let it grow in the house for a while.  Moderate light levels and ease of watering will help the plant get its feet under it over the next few months, at which point it will fare much better when returned to the outside world.

This type of babying is also handy if you get plants from a friend who lives in a warmer climate than you do.  Mom's quince was already leafing out, and I knew we were going to get freezes the next few nights, so I figured it would be happier indoors than out in the cold ground.

Thanks for the quince, Mom!  I'm looking forward to sour fruits and pretty flowers in a year or two.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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