How Long Does a Tree Take to Recover from Transplant Shock?

Experts agree that a newly planted tree normally needs one year for every inch of trunk diameter to recover a normal root system. For example, a tree three inches in diameter will require at least three years in the ground to become fully established. Symptoms of shock in tree transplantation are immediately visible when leaves form after replanting. Deciduous trees will wither and, if corrective action is not taken quickly, may eventually turn brown and fall.

Coniferous needles acquire a pale green or blue-green color before becoming brittle, golden and dropping off. These browning symptoms start first on younger (newer) leaves, which are more delicate and sensitive to water loss. Transplant shock can last anywhere from two weeks to five years. However, there are ways to avoid the problem altogether, especially for gardeners who are willing to take the time to research their plants and identify how and when the transplant should be done.

Don't let plants get the best of you and remember that each one is as unique as a person. Show them plenty of attention and give them the right soil and nutrition, and the transplant will go smoothly. For instance, vegetables can recover from shock after 2 to 4 weeks of transplantation. But plants such as trees can take up to two years or more before they recover from all the shock stress of transplant.

The symptoms of transplant shock vary widely, but they often make it look like the newly planted tree is dying. Seedlings of trees that have lived for several years and grow in comfortable cultural conditions, develop and thrive in a careful and natural balance of leaf surface and root growth. As a result, newly planted trees must rely on a smaller root system to supply water and nutrients than they are used to. Some root damage is unavoidable when the roots of a tree are cut to fit in a container for transport.

A certified arborist can consult you at home and advise you on the best location and planting methods for your specific tree, as well as how to care for it once transplanted. Replanting the tree again is like restarting the stressful procedure and can cause more damage to the tree. Despite the fact that it is mostly out of sight, consider the well-being of the root system of a tree to improve the success of transplanted trees. The health of a tree and its ultimate survival can be guaranteed if practices that favor root system establishment become the ultimate gold standard.

Tree has over 30 years of experience in residential and commercial areas and can easily help you with any of your tree needs. Small indoor plants or vegetable plants may only experience shock for a week or two, but larger plants and trees may take more than a year to fully recover. Your chances of success improve if you prune the root of the tree a year or two before the actual transplant. Transplant clash is difficult for trees, but nothing they can't bounce back from (as long as you spot it early enough to give them a chance).

Someone who moves trees can expect the sapling to be in shock for at least one year, with some species having periods of latent shock lasting up to five years.

Bart Preti
Bart Preti

Hipster-friendly travel trailblazer. Wannabe pop culture fanatic. Devoted tv scholar. Passionate pop culture scholar. Devoted bacon expert. Avid coffee lover.

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