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Credit: istock/Veter

lavatera_1.jpg

Q: I want to move a lavatara bush. I have only had it a couple of years so it is still fairly small. I plan to trim the branches right down and move it to the front yard to make room for a new fig tree. The backyard is more protected and gets lots of sun. I hope that I am doing the right thing! —Carla

I've not moved a lavatera bush myself, but I know that Lavatera 'Barnsley' is known to suddenly revert to a more wild type that is completely pink (rather than pale pink with a deeper pink centre). For this reason, it's wise not to cut it back too hard—only cut branches to two or three feet off the ground. If cut back too hard, the plant will do a colour change, for botanical reasons too complex to explain here. So focus your efforts on digging as large a root ball as possible.

Start well out from the ends of the branches, and angle your digging in so that you aren't cutting off too many feeder roots. (If you dig right down from the ends of the branches, it's hard to "turn a corner" and get in under the bottom of the root ball.) Lift the shrub by the roots, very gently. If your soil is sandy, be extra careful so that the soil doesn't not fall away from the roots. Immediately replant it in the new spot and water it well. If this is not possible, place it in a large garbage bag or wrap the roots in a tarp so they don't dry out.

In general, this lovely shrub likes full sun and great drainage. It is very drought tolerant when established.

Good luck!