The Times to Move a Bayberry Bush

Northern bayberry, waxberry, tallow bayberry, small waxberry, tallowshrub, swamp candleberry, candlewood, candletree and tallowtree are a couple of of the common names to the native North American bayberry bush (Myrica pensylvanica). All these semievergreen to deciduous shrubs reach 10 feet in height and spread to form colonies in their native habitat of coastal dunes, pine-oak forests or old disciplines. In the home landscape, a bayberry bush may outgrow its placement and need to be moved.

New Site Selection

Bayberry bushes thrive in average pH soil range of 6.0 to 7.0. They do not like high pH soil, which is too alkaline for their optimum growth. Soil pH is the measure of relative acidity and alkalinity, which affects a plant’s capacity to absorb nutrients. Before moving the bayberry bush, analyze its new location’s soil. Soil is returned to pH balance by the addition of mature compost into the planting hole. Mix compost with soil taken from the planting hole. Bayberries prefer a location with full to partial shade. They are well-adapted to coastal regions and are tolerant of salt spray.

Season to Transplant

Woody shrubs like bayberry are best transplanted in early spring prior to their flower buds begin to swell. Fall is also a traditional time for transplanting trees and shrubs. Bayberry bushes transplanted in the fall develop strong root systems over the winter months. Shrubs moved in late summer or spring are the most liable to transplant injury. Irrigate the bush a few days before it’s moved to be certain that the root system stays moist. Low branches may be tied to the trunk to reduce injury through the move. Mark one side of the trunk so it’s planted in precisely the exact same orientation to the sun in its spot.


Always use a sharp-bladed shovel to dig around the main system to make clean cuts. Uneven cuts in the roots invite disease problems. Dig a root ball two-thirds of this diameter of the branch spread. A small bayberry shrub with less than a 1-inch-diameter main stem could be moved bare root, but bigger shrubs need soil attached to the root system. Dig a trench deep enough to get below the major roots, typically 15 to 24 inches deep. The trench is dug completely around the perimeter of the tree.

Removing and Replanting

The thickness of the trench allows the shovel to angle under the soil ball around the main system. Shrubs less than 4 feet in height do not need a trench. Dig under the main system, severing roots as you go. All roots must be severed prior to the tree may be raised from the soil. Cover the root ball using burlap when it has been eliminated. Replant the bayberry bush when possible to avoid injury. Keep the root ball moist if it cannot immediately be planted in its new location. Water the new planting hole before placing the shrub within it. Make sure you orient the bayberry in precisely the exact same way that it grew in its original location.

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