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Thursday, April 30, 2015

How to Move a Joshua Tree

Q. I am lucky to have a Joshua tree that is about 3ft tall and I am thinking about moving it now that it has been five or six years in the ground. Am I going to be successful in moving it or do you think I will kill it?

Joshua tree that was planted and still small enough
 to move without much difficulty.
A. Joshua trees are difficult to move from the wild but much easier when it has been planted once and watered with drip irrigation. It should move okay.

Your major precautions are to make sure its new home drains water easily and not to overwater it after planting. I would avoid moving it when it is hot but you could move it now during the spring or fall months.

Dig the hole where it will be planted ahead of time. Fill this hole with water and make sure it drains in a few hours. Amend the soil taken from the hole with about 25% compost and use it for backfilling the hole after planting.

Add a handful or two of a high phosphorus fertilizer to this soil mix to encourage rooting. It will be important to stake the tree the first season after planting to keep the roots from moving during establishment.

Take as much of the root system as possible when you move it to its new home. There will be far less shock to the plant and better establishment if the roots are disturbed as little as possible.

Moving a much larger Joshua tree with very little root system.
Most of the roots will be close to the drip emitters or source of water and within about 12 inches of
the soil surface. When you move it, take as much of the soil around the roots as possible and plant it with this “root ball”.

Make a mental note of the north side of the tree. Orient it the same direction as it was previously. Stake it after planting for one growing season.

Do not water too often. You can overwater it by giving it more water in a single watering but do not give it water more than every three weeks.

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