Japanese Maple
  Re: (0...)
I have several volunteer seedlings, some 4 yrs. old, which I would like to gift to friends. When is good time to dig, how large a root ball, when to prune them, will they live ??? Any advice gratefully received.
  Re: Japanese Maple by QuailRest (I have several volun...)
What I've had recommended is, in the spring, to drive your spade into the soil in a circle around the tree about 1 foot to 18 inches away from the trunk. This will sever any long roots and force the tree to grow more short, feeder roots. Leave the tree in the ground over the summer, then dig it out and transplant it in the fall. Dig it out along the same line where you severed the roots in the spring. The new feeder roots formed over the summer will help the tree adapt faster to its new location. Depending on the size of the tree, your root ball will likely be around 2 feet across and about 12-18 inches deep. If it's not going to be transplanted immediately after digging it up, you might try to plop it all into a container (if you can find on large enough), or wrap some burlap around the root ball. Mostly you're just trying to hold the soil in place and conserve moisture around the tree's roots. (You did water the plant deeply before digging it up, right?) Dig the new planting hole the same depth as the root ball and up to twice as wide. You can add some fertilizer tablets to the planting hole if you'd like to, but you shouldn't have to amend the soil; it's best for the tree to get used to the soil that it'll be living in for the next umpity decades as soon as possible. Also, staking usually isn't necessary unless the tree is being planted in a particularly windy location. Then only one stake should be used to anchor the tree against the prevailing wind, and it should be removed within a year. Have fun sharing your bounty!
The great thing about gardening is that you always get a chance to start over!

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