Has Anyone Successfully Transplanted Sasafrass?

susanlynne48(OKC7a)

I have one in a pot - a small one, but the pot is about a foot deep (for the tap root, I assume). I see a lot of posts from people whose sasafrass died upon transplanting, and I wonder if there is anything I can do to promote the success of transplanting my baby tree.

I know a lot of people don't like Sasafrass because of it's suckering habit. But, I have a place for it where it will be very restricted. I want to grow it because it is a host tree for the Spicebush Butterfly.

Susan

SaveComment18Like
Comments (18)
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
waplummer(Z5 NY)

I transplanted one from the woods about 40 yearsa ago and it is now some 30 feet tall. Then a few years ago I bought one from a nursery and almost lost it to the deer. So it can be done.

1 Like Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
susanlynne48(OKC7a)

Thanks for giving me hope, waplummer! I will be very careful when I transplant mine and will let you know how it goes!

Susan

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cypsavant(z5/6 Ontario)

I've only had limited experience with sassafras, but William Cullina in his excellent book "Native Trees, Shrubs & Vines: A Guide to Using, Growing, and Propagating North American Woody Plants" mentions that the source of many failures from transplanting sassafras may come from attempting to transplant suckers with inadequate root systems, and reports excellent success with nursery and seed grown stock up to at least 2 years old. (I'm paraphrasing...the book is in another room)
My limited experience would support that summary, as well.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
susanlynne48(OKC7a)

I received my sasafrass from a native plant nursery called Mail Order Natives in Florida. Several people on the Butterfly Forum have ordered from them and they came highly recommended. I'm hoping it's not a sucker but a seed grown plant. Sasafrass is also known to produce many seedlings as well as suckers. Here's hoping..........

Thanks for all your help, you've been extremely generous to a newbie on this forum. I am trying to grow more and more natives in my landscape, particularly those that are attractive to various butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, and other wildlife.

Susan

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
terryr(z5a IL)

Susan, I don't have any experience with Sassafras, but I would caution you against buying from someplace that is so much warmer than you and with a totally different climate. I've lost too many plants to count that way. I now buy native plants from a place northeast of me in IL, but I've mail-ordered from lower WI and lower MN, that are more like my climate.

1 Like Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
georgia-rose

As the shrub becomes larger, be sure to save some of the leaves for yourself. Cut the branches and hang in a dry, shady location for a couple of weeks, until the leaves become dry, Grind them very fine in your coffee mill and you will have filé powder to use in Creole dishes for thickening, especially Filé gumbo. Don't use okra and filé powder together or it will become too thick.
Very tasty! If you like that sort of fare, as we do.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
susanswoods(Z6 VA)

I love sassafrass but have never grown it. Most things will transplant when they are fairly small.

Plant some spicebush too if you can find it. It's another host plant for the same butterfly and is a wonderful shrub. You need both male and females for berries.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
turbo_tpl(z7a Richland WA)

I transplanted two in Indiana with success. As noted by others above, the main issue is that if you dig one up in the wild, you may be getting a root suckered tree, which will likely die. Since sassafras is a suckering tree, it can be hard to determine whether it is a root sucker or not.

You might consider just growing them from seed (you could probably obtain some from the seed exchange on this website). It's quite easy, they grow rapidly, and the tree would probably do just as well if not better than a transplant.

By the way, I'm glad to hear someone is planting sassafras. It's a gorgeous native tree, and underplanted as an ornamental (why anyone would put in one of those hideous flowering pears rather than a sassafras is more than I can ever understand....)

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sustainabler

I bought sassafras bare-root seedlings from my local soil and water conservation district annual native tree and shrub sale this spring. They appear to be suckers and have almost no root hairs, just a lateral root twig. Nonetheless, I assumed they knew what they were doing when they sold them that way. It's early may and the bud tips are greener but have not opened. I'm keeping it watered and hoping for the best...

Before using Sassafras as a food additive, be sure and check the latest health research which I understand has shown it is a known carcinogen (from its safrole content). Oops. Not all natural things are good for us, I guess. But it will be good for the wildlife in my yard, if it grows!! I love the mitten and 3-lobed leaves...

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
terrene(5b MA)

I'm glad this thread was bumped up. There is a nice little grove of Sassafras in a small woodland nearb.y It has several mature trees and lots of small ones growing in the vicinity. Some of the small trees are 50-100 feet away from the large trees.

I would love to transplant a small one, but would not do it if I can't be sure whether it's a sucker or not. Does anybody know how to tell which ones are suckers and which are seedlings?

Btw, every year I see a Spicebush Swallowtail in the garden, and I'm pretty sure they are hatching on the Sassafras - no other host plants in the area.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
nyssaman(Z6 ON)

Sassafras will sulk the first year it is planted out keep it watered and the second year it should return to normal happy growth. They do prefer a light sandy loam and do poorly in heavy clay soils and will eventually die, if not will be very unhappy and not thrive.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dapjwy

I ordered 2 sassafras from a local native plant sale. I am picking them up this Friday. Luckily, I found a place to buy some.

My soil is well drained so, I expect it to do well. I've seen them grow wild with low-bush blueberry under it among other things. It seems they will do well where I plan to put them.

Sassafras is one of my favorites. I love the habitat they seem to create. I'm hoping to recreate it on my property.

Good luck growing yours.

David

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
agkistrodon(6/7)

I am reviving this thread because I have a sassafras growing under the upper deck of my house....it is roughly 4ft high...interestingly enough it is growing next to a spicebush (mentioned in this thread) which is also about same height....I need to move both of these as they are going to run out of room soon....if I "kill" the spicebush by moving it, it will send up shoots....so I'm not so worried about this one. However, will I kill the sassafras if I move it? While there are loads of sass's around the place I don't *think* this is a "sucker" because there aren't any others adjacent but then I am not sure how far a sassafras root can go.....anyone know?

How far down should I dig....how long is the tap root likely to be?

Thanks for any help!

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
edlincoln(6A)

Considering planting Sassafras because a website run by the neighboring state recommended it. How "shrubby" is it? Does it typically have space underneath it where you can walk? Are the flowers big enough to be attractive?

...you say it doesn't do well in clay? How does it do with salt spray or wind?

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
buteau3rd

Is sasafrass the one with 3 different shaped leaves?

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
agkistrodon(6/7)

Not sure about 3...it does have at least 2 shapes...oval and "mitten-lobed"...but there are also the mulberries...they have great variation in the shape of their leaves.

Sassafras trees (at least the ones I've seen growing wild) are not shrubby. They tend towards"leggy" and though there may be some large specimens in some habitats the ones that I have encountered tend to break very easily and they never attain great stature. On my property they appear to be very attractive to asian bittersweet and just about every sassafras is bending and contorted under the weight of these vines. The flowers are beautiful but not showy and I don't think people generally buy them for their blooms....however, the foliage is very nice especially in the autumn! They are host to many, many butterfly/moth species.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
averycoleusmc

Recommendation for transplanting sassafras is to 1, wait until the dormant season (winter), and two, take a root ball roughly 12 times the size of the trunk - for every inch diameter, take a foot of root ball.

Following the root ball size recommendation, but not the season one, I have successfully transplanted 3 young plants, and unsuccessfully transplanted one, not following any recommendations. I watered all of them deeply at transplant. They went from in the middle of the yard to more select locations in the landscape, so similar soil conditions, except one that went into a pot.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Shane Hinshaw

I have transplanted before. I believe this could be a sucker an if was not I may have broke the tap root. However I do know you can not let any remaining roots dry out. So immediately I wrapped it in a wet paper towel then wrapped plastic bag around it. I then drove 4hours home. It dose not seem to be in shock. But just in case it was. I put aloe on the the root break then I dipped it vitamin B12 then I dipped in root hormone. Normally it best to keep transplant in shade till it roots and vitamin b1 is to help plants to stay out of shock. When a plant is in shock the leaves will hang straight down. On older plants I take all leaves off so it easier root. I will take leaves off tomorrow if it seems to be in shock.

Save    
Browse Gardening and Landscaping Stories on Houzz See all Stories
Winter Gardening Extend Your Growing Season With a Cold Frame in the Garden
If the sun's shining, it might be time to sow seeds under glass to transplant or harvest
Full Story
Houzz Tours Houzz Tour: An Ecofriendly Family Home Gets in Line
Without any curved lines but with a wealth of energy-efficient features, this remodeled home in Northern California has plenty of appeal
Full Story
Most Popular Why Fall Is the Best Time for Planting
Spring is overrated for planting. Starting plants in autumn has advantages for both garden and gardener
Full Story