Transplant Shock

A few weeks ago I went outside to dig in the dirt.  Weed and trim.  Enjoy the beautiful day.  There were a ton of weeds, as I haven’t really gotten to it much this year with all the traveling I’ve been doing.  I was in front of the house and cleared away some of those clover-like plants that spread like crazy.  The good part about those is that when you get the roots it clears a big space out.  You make progress pretty quickly.  Anyway, I got rid of those plants, and then I found this – the roses were completely covered up by some of the other plants.  Not weeds, but daylilies and Siberian iris.  So I moved the roses.

(c) Kathleen Thompson

(c) Kathleen Thompson

It was August and hot out.  It was quite sunny and dry on that particular day.  And those rose bushes immediately started wilting in the heat.

Why?  Transplant shock.

When you transplant something that’s established, you have to be careful to get as much of the roots as possible.  And the dirt, too.  Move enough of its current environment into the new space.  Otherwise, it doesn’t thrive.  And sometimes it dies.

Sometimes it’s hard to get all the roots.  Other plants’ roots are intertwined and you can’t tell where one stops and the other starts.  Or the small roots just break apart or break off.  That happens with bleeding heart plants.  You have to almost just take a pile of dirt and scoop it so as to not break the roots.

Anyway, one of my roses turned out to have two huge roots that were almost tap roots.  And I think I broke them too close to the bush because there was a larger evergreen bush right next to it.  I don’t think that one’s going to make it.  There wasn’t enough of a root system to get re-established.  Especially in the extreme heat.

As I stood looking at the wilted bush, I realized that we are so much like it.  We don’t take well to being dug up and moved.  It’s a shock and stressful.  We can mitigate the shock and stress by taking enough of our roots and surrounding soil.  Then we have a shot at not only surviving but thriving in the new location.  It still takes nurture – water, sun, and weeding, but we can perk up pretty quickly.

If there’s something you’ve been wanting to change, give yourself the best shot.  Bring something of where you’ve been to where you’re going.  Something familiar.  Don’t try and overthrow everything at once.

A marketing genius I know said that you should always compare your product to something that people are already familiar with.  “It’s like this except for these changes.”  Surviving transplant shock is similar.  Relate where you want to go with somewhere you’ve already been.  Then it feels like a small step rather than bungie jumping without the bungie cord.

I don’t want you to look like my rose bush.  Right now it’s just brown shriveled-looking sticks with a hint of green.  Imagine how much work it will take to bring it back to life, if I can even do it at all.  I would love to see you green and shining with lush leaves and beautiful flowers.

Take your roots and your dirt with you, pick a sheltered spot, and grow.  You’ll be glad you did.

Is there something you’d like to change?  What can you bring with you to ease the transition?  Share in the comments.