Transplanting Ilex verticillata

Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

I have a Winter Gold which I love but is in the wrong place. I got it as a cutting 15 years ago. It's probably about 10' tall and has several stems and a couple of suckers. I've never moved a holly this size. Has anyone ever moved a large holly?
Anyone knows the growth behavior of the roots? Can I cut it back, get some root with each stem like a viburnum, hydrangea or a smoke bush and divide the plant? Or is it the type of plant that has suckers that really don't have a lot of its own root?
I figure if ever there were a bunch of gardeners who move plants around the garden, it would be this group! I've tried sticking the shovel in the ground a couple of times and it didn't go far so I'm hoping I can cut it down and divide it with a little root and start a new patch.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

I'm raising my hand as someone who has moved (transplanted) many Winterberry Holly plants in his day - including stock plants from the fellow who selected, named, and introduced Ilex verticillata 'Winter Gold' to commerce.

It is probably a good plan for the home gardener to divide off a chunk of root system with a suckering stem, and have positive expectations for success and to grow on a new plant. If you are thinking that you can transplant the entire 10' tall goliath, you may be biting of more than anyone should be expected to chew.

Since the "parent plant" is fifteen years old, it will be difficult to sever off chunks, but you can do it with diligence. Go for pieces that have suckering stems, but you may also have success with transplanting large sections of just root pieces, which have the propensity to sucker (but just haven't yet).

It would be the most awesome thing if you photo-documented how you go about doing this, and shared it here so that others may learn and be inspired to do themselves.

Eau Claire, WI(Zone 4a)

John, didn't you once post a series of pictures showing your technique for transplanting a mature shrub? I'm guessing it was a Viburnum (just a hunch), but wouldn't you use a similar approach for Ilex?

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

You have a solid memory, Pseudo. I'll look back in time to find that gem, and post a link to it here.

HOWEVER - that was a nursery-grown plant (maybe 3 years in place), not a 15 year old mature landscape plant. Despite overall size, the length of time a tree/shrub has grown in one place without root-pruning makes a huge difference in potential success with transplantability.

Loretta may be able to jerk that 'Winter Gold' out of the ground with a chain and a pickup truck, plow it back into the ground, and see new leaves emerge from parts of it - thus having a live plant. I doubt it would be much more than a shadow of its former self, though.

It is probably a better approach to extract a younger vigorous portion (the suckering stem from the colonizing aspect of Ilex verticillata root system behavior) and have that re-establish as a new clonal offspring.

The shrub transplanting process that I illustrated with Viburnum species is different, in that I was transplanting the entire plant - not a subset - of a much younger plant. Most viburnum are not colonizers, though there are a few that behave this way - Viburnum prunifolium, Viburnum rufidulum, and Viburnum acerifolium among them.

Thumbnail by ViburnumValley Thumbnail by ViburnumValley
Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

Here is some good information previously posted about Ilex verticillata.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

Ha! Found the posting about transplanting shrubs - thanks for the prod, Pseudo.

Though this post is from 9 years ago, the value is all still there.

Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

Thank you, VV and Psuedo! Thank you for the links. I will go through them more slowly again.

I don't mind if I lose the crown, as long as it grows back. I have moved a lot of plants over the years but this one is definitely shovel resistant so I think I will have to tear at it. If it doesn't work, I could always get another I suppose. This one was a cutting from Windrose Nursery in PA just before it closed.

I will take some photos but don't expect them to be elegant. I don't have a lot of patience anymore.

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Loretta, I can't imagine anybody getting a balled and burlapped job to look so doggone pretty as is VV's here;
I've never seen another one looking so perfect, I'm sure few would measure up to those standards.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

Practice for 20 years, and you too can B&B like VV...

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

We'd need closer shots for the burlap wrapping and sticking the pins in.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

I'll need a cinematographer and makeup artist on staff.

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)


Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

It looks like expensive pottery, doesn't it? Good enough for Pinterest!

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Hahaha, yes and yes!

Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

I never moved it yet but the suckers tend to look like this if you can see it. There is horizontal wood underground with alternating root sprouts. Hows that for technical terms? This is actually Oosterwijk but this the structure. My viburnums are similar.

Thumbnail by Loretta_NJ

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