Is it too late in the season to move a fringe tree?


I have a small fringe tree that I may have planted in too small of a hole. I think it has hit marine clay and may be root bound. I am interested in digging it up, perhaps clipping it back, and replacing it in a much bigger hole. Is it too late in the season to do this kind of work? It get full sun in the afternoons, but we live near the ocean, which seems to have a temperate impact on the plants. 


Liz Stanley, Horticulture Community Education Assistant

It’s still pretty early in the season, so if you’re careful, you can dig up your fringe tree and move it to a better location.

Here’s general information about growing Chionanthus virginicus from the Missouri Botanical Garden.

– Transplanting is best done on a cool, overcast day. If that’s not possible, early morning will do.
– Have the new hole ready. Be sure it’s wide and not too deep. The root/trunk flare on the tree should show above ground.
– If your soil is marine clay, you can amend it with no more than 20% bagged compost by volume mixed into the native soil.
– If the roots are matted or circling each other, gently loosen them up and spread them into the planting hole.
– Backfill part way and water well. Complete the backfill, being sure the plant is not too deep. Water again.
– Mulch around the plant, avoiding contact with the trunk.
– Avoid fertilizer in the first year. (Most trees and shrubs don’t need any if they’re planted well.)
– Even though this plant grows in moist areas in its native range, allow it to be almost dry between waterings to prevent root rot in the first season.

As a side note, white fringe tree is the only known non-ash species that is a host plant for the Emerald Ash borer. More in this article.