Transplanting perennials - Going against the rules worked for me

Transplanting Perennials -Going Against The Rules! It Worked!

This past winter, we sold our house and moved to a new house. Since we put it up for sale at the “wrong” time in January, I was really past the time for digging up many of my plants that I wanted to keep and take to the new house. So what is a gardener to do when the house sells fairly quickly and you need to get out for the new owners? Will transplanting perennials at this time of year still work?

I asked myself this question: Do I try it and lose the plant because it is the wrong time of the year?  Do I leave it at the old house and lose the plant anyway?  When I looked at the question this way, either of the options I could or would lose the plant. So I decided to chance it.  If it works, I have the plant. Leaving it behind because it’s the wrong time of year to dig it up, I lose the plant anyway.

Transplanting Perennials - Going Against The Rules

So I dug up plants in Ohio in February/March, in mostly frozen ground, the totally wrong time of year in Ohio for transplanting perennials.

So what did I get for my efforts?

I have my nicest big Hosta. I don’t know the name. I dug it when I could hardly find the tips coming up from the soil. But I just dug a huge circle around them and brought that big monster to the new house. Truly, it sat for a week or two in a cardboard box before I was able to dig it into the ground, but I am glad to say it survived nicely and has bloomed well this year at the new house.

Transplanting perennials - Digging a hosta in March in Ohio

Another plant that I most assuredly wanted to save was my Bottle Gentian. It dies to the ground just like the hosta does, so I dug in a circle around it too. It survived and it doing great! It is a closed flower and a native plant, so it is important to me to save it.

Getting to keep my plants - Transplanting Perennials without following the rules

It is a strange plant to me because it blooms so late in the year in Ohio. It is blooming now in November in frosty and freezing weather. We have been in the 30F degrees many times and it just budded and continued on. In fact, the plant even looks healthier and better than in its previous location. So glad I brought it with me.

Another plant that I dug at a completely and totally wrong time of year was my Hellebore. It was in the middle of blooming and doing very well after so many years waiting for it to bloom, I could not help myself. I dug it up too. Well, color me happy, because it survived and continued to bloom here in the new garden  and the foliage has done really well this year in its new location.

Transplanting perennials - My poor hellebore in a bucket for weeks

She has appeared in some of my YouTube videos on my channel, Kim’s Gardens, and the foliage usually died out in spring pretty drastically, only leaving a few branches to survive the year. Over here, it has grown so much and put out new branches. So anxious for next February to see how well it will do. But it is alive and thriving and all my years of coddling it has not gone to waste for someone else.

Hellebore after transplanting in April

After all, the new owner got my T-Rex Hypertufa Trough, and all the rest of my flowers and shrubs. Hold on just a moment, my eyes are getting a little misty. I miss my giant tufa so much. I hope they are being good to her!

I Broke The Rules! It Worked! Transplanting Perennials

Moral of the story? If you find it necessary to move a plant and it is not the recommended time to do it, Just Do It! Just like Nike products say, go ahead and just do it. My only caveat would be that you have to be willing to lose it if the worst should happen. I certainly don’t feel that these plants would always survive. Hey, I dug up blooming tiny daffodils and I won’t know til next spring if those have survived.

I dug up my daffodils while in bloom - totally against the rules for transplanting perennials

But don’t they say all of us gardeners live on faith? It’s the nature of gardening.


  1. Kristin Kasprzak says:

    Hi! A fellow pea-in-a-pod gardener! I move stuff ALL THE TIME. Whenever I can visualize where it would look/grow best. I’m planting a Thalia and an Ice Folly daffodil in bloom because I now know what they are, and where they should go. From some pictures on the web I think the inch-long papery sheath at the base of the bulb stalk goes in the ground, not above it. Do you agree? Thanks for your input!

    1. I didn’t know a Thalia but looked it up and it is very pretty. Said also known as Water Canna and I am just deciding I want some canna this year. No pond feature here though. I think the papery sheath is the old stem remnants and would go upwards, the other side goes down. I have heard no matter how they are planted the stem will find the direction of the sun anyway. Thanks for visiting!

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