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This project will teach us about transplanting. That is moving plants from one place to the other. For example, if you planted a Scotch Broom very close to the front door, and within three years, you had to fight your way to the front door with a machete, you learned that you put the Scotch Broom in the wrong place. What do you do about that? Unless it is very, VERY large, you can wait for cool weather to come, prune the shrub, dig it up carefully, and move it to a spot in your yard where it will have plenty of room to grow. You will have transplanted your Scotch Broom. That is much better than killing it. If you had no place to put it, perhaps a neighbor would want it; you dig it up and transplant it into the neighbor's yard.

Very large plants are difficult to transplant, and sometimes it can't even be done at all. The larger a plant is, the larger its root system is. When you transplant, you have to take the roots, too. In addition, you have to take quite a lot of the soil in which it is growing, because there are zillions of little, tiny, hair-like roots that will break off if you don't take some of the soil.

There are many other reasons why plants need to be moved. Maybe a mistake was made regarding the amount of sun the plant would get where it is, and that it would get the
correct amount in another place. Maybe you are just tired of it, and would rather have another plant in that place for awhile, so you trade the plants' places.

Plants that are in containers need to be transplanted because they outgrow their containers. This is easy to do. Generally, you buy the next larger size pot than the one they are in, and put a bit of new, moist potting soil into the bottom of the new container. Water the old pot thoroughly, then tap it against something hard. The plant should fall right out. You will get not only the plant and roots, but the soil from its container. If roots are showing on the sides of the ball of soil, you can snip them off a bit, along with a small amount of the old soil. About 1/2 inch to 1 inch all around the sides of the ball of soil should be enough. Then put the ball down into the new pot and pack new, moist potting soil all around the sides, and add a little to the top. Keep it fairly moist for awhile so that the roots have an easy chance at growing into the new soil. When you buy new plants at the garden store, they are in pots and need to be placed into the soil in your garden spot. This is transplanting, also, and it needs to be done with care. Sometimes the plants we buy come in a wide, shallow box, called a flat, and there may be one or two dozen small plants in the flat. They need to be separated gently before planting. When they are separated, some of the fine roots break off, but that shouldn't hurt the plants. Plants that come in flats are usually seedlings, which means they are very young plants. The roots of these plants should be planted just below ground level. You do not want to dig a big, deep pit to plant a seedling that has roots only two or three inches long. Some of those roots need to be spread out to the sides of the plant before you tamp down the soil around it. There should be a slight depression in the soil after you have planted a seedling and pressed down the soil around it. This will hold a little more water, and help the seedling to get off to a good start. Remember, don't drown it! If you plant seedlings during the summer, it may be best to build a portable shade for the seedlings, at least for the first several days, so they don't get burned. You can shade it with leafy branches, cardboard, or a few shingles.

If you transplant during winter, you need to learn about frost conditions in your area. Sometimes, a plastic coat is good to have around the seedlings until Spring arrives. A few sticks around the plant can be wrapped with plastic. This would help keep it from freezing if there is frost, yet it could still get all the air it needs.

There are many things to think about when you decide which plants to buy and where to put them. These same problems have to be solved when you want to transplant.

1. Never transplant on a hot day. If it must be done during the hot season, wait until evening, after the sun is down, or transplant on a cloudy day.

2. Always have the new place ready for the plant before you remove it from its pot or spot in the garden. The new garden spot should be deep and wide enough to hold the plant's roots, and the ball of soil that comes with it. The new place should be wet, but not a mud hole. If the plant requires some fertilizer, that should be mixed in with the soil at the bottom of the new space. The soil at the bottom of the new space should be spaded so that it is soft enough for the roots to grow easily into the soil.

3. Always water frequently at first, but do not drown your plants.

4. Keep in mind that transplants usually have a "set-back," which means that they will droop and look like they are dying, until their roots take hold in the new soil and start taking in nourishment.

5. Remember, your plants are a reflection of your personality, and your garden is a work of art. It's okay to move plants around until their placement pleases you. Be gentle.

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