A Weigela I planted in May began to grow almost immediately after I planted it and has grown six or eight inches since. Most plants don’t display the same indifference to being planted though; many, if not most have to sit and “think” about their new home for awhile before they show any signs of growth. This “sitting and doing nothing” time is when the plant is becoming established, and though there isn’t much going on above ground, there is plenty going on beneath it.
A Black Lace Elderberry, eight feet from the Weigela and growing in the same soil and light exposure, waited two months to show any signs of life. Then suddenly, almost overnight, new shoots appeared all over it. A Bottle Brush Buckeye, loaded with flower buds when I planted it, has sat quietly for three months. Though it looks perfectly healthy, it has shown no signs of new growth and the flower buds have yet to open. A Kerria Japonica in the same shrub border began to drop leaves almost immediately after I planted it. I suspected transplant shock, but kept it moist and otherwise let it be. Now, almost four months later, it has quite a lot of new growth and even three or four flowers.
Despite their differing responses to their new home I left all of these shrubs alone because I knew they were busy establishing root systems. Different plants grow their roots at different rates, and if I had become impatient and moved those that seemed to sit and do nothing I would have had to let them become established all over again. My impatience would have meant waiting months longer.
I rarely move a shrub or tree that I have planted or transplanted until at least a year has passed. If I have watered and otherwise cared for it and it hasn’t shown any signs of growth by the end of its first full year, then I’ll consider moving it. Until then patience is called for because at times, the best thing for a gardener to do is nothing at all.