What is plant shock, and what strategies are used in horticulture to minimise its impact?

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Main topic: Science
Other topics: Plants
Short answer: The phrase "transplant shock" refers to a range of stresses that may arise in trees and shrubs that have just recently been moved to new locations. It results in the plant not being able to root well, which leads to the plant having a difficult time being rooted in the landscape.

New grafts do not have broad root systems, and they often experience stress because there is not enough water available to them. Plants that are struggling with a lack of water may be more prone to damage from other factors, such as weather, insects, or disease. When a plant is subjected to several pressures at once, it is possible that it might not function normally.[1]

Symptoms of plant shock[edit]

  • Leaf scorch: The tissue between both the veins or along the edges of the leaves of deciduous plants is the first place to show signs of leaf scorch. This might appear as yellowing or bronzing.[2]
  • Growth of plant: The length of the new growth is a good indicator of the drastic reduction in overall plant growth that has taken place. A plant that is under stress will produce new leaves or needles that are much smaller than usual.[3]
  • Leaf rolls: The rolling or curling of the leaves is a symptom that may appear on plants that are suffering from transplant shock.[4]

Best practices to Avoid Transplant Shock[edit]

The beginning of the spring season and the conclusion of the autumn season are the two times of the year that are ideal for transplanting plants. These two times of the year provide the most favorable circumstances for transplanting.[5]

When transplanting seedlings into their permanent locations might have an impact on the subsequent development of your plants. Because the roots are being messed with, there is a chance that they won't be able to withstand the strain of losing water when the weather is very hot and sunny. Because the plant will be exposed to less sunlight when it is transplanted on a cloudy day or later in the evening, there will be less water loss and wilting as a result of the process. Therefore, there will be no transplant shock for the plants since they will have sufficient time to acclimate to their new surroundings.[6]

When removing plants from their containers, best not to cause the roots too much stress. Because there is a greater chance of the root ball being messed with. Take into account the climate, the kind of soil, and the drainage in the place where the plants are going to be transplanted. Before transferring the plant, make sure it has enough water. It maintains the moisture level of the root ball, reducing the likelihood that the roots may get damaged.  Make an effort to dig up and remove maximum roots. Because the delicate roots contained inside the root ball are vital to the plant's robust development at this stage in its life.[7]

The process of transplanting a plant and then immediately watering it helps the plants acclimate to its new habitat. Before transplanting, remove any dead bark, dried leaves, and foliage from the plants that are going to be transplanted. Always keep a close eye on freshly transplanted plants to check for signs of disease and pests, since these plants are at a greater risk of being affected by these problems.[8]

How to minimize plant shock[edit]

Add sugar: Studies have indicated that giving a plant a sugar and water solution that has been diluted with ordinary sugar purchased from a grocery store after it has been transplanted will speed up the time it takes for the plant to recuperate from the trauma of having its roots moved. If administered at the time of the transplant, it may also be utilized as a preventative measure against transplant shock. Even if it is only helpful for selecting plants, you should give it a go since doing so will not hurt the plant.[9]

Root moisture: Keep the roots of the plant in a moist environment, and at the same time, make sure the soil is getting enough water while checking that the plant is not submerged in water.[10]

Location: Choose the right plant for the right spot.

Trim plants: When you prune the plant, you give it the opportunity to concentrate its energy on repairing damaged roots. Remove around one third of the plant's foliage from perennials. Remove one-third of an annual plant's foliage and prune it so that it grows into a bush shape. Remove one half of each leaf from the plant if it has a main stem and save the other half.[11]

Epsom Salts: It is possible that the shock caused by transplanting will cause the plants to become brittle and die. Epsom salts are quite helpful in alleviating the transplant shock.[12]


  1. "Avoiding And Fixing Transplant Shock In Plants". Gardening Know How. Retrieved 2022-10-06.
  2. "Extension | Leaf Scorch". extension.wvu.edu. Retrieved 2022-10-06.
  3. "Wild Interiors — Can My Houseplant Go Into Shock?". Wild Interiors. Retrieved 2022-10-06.
  4. Sim, Adriana. "How To Handle Transplant Shock in Seedlings". Tiny Garden Habit. Retrieved 2022-10-06.
  5. Antosh, Gary (2020-01-23). "Tips On Using Epsom Salts To Help Plants Overcome Transplant Shock". Plant Care Today. Retrieved 2022-10-06.
  6. Rawat, Apeksha (2020-05-14). "How to Avoid Plant Shock while Repotting?". Ferns N Petals. Retrieved 2022-10-06.
  7. "Avoid Transplant Shock". CALS. Retrieved 2022-10-06.
  8. Calendar, Gardening (2018-10-05). "Ways To Minimize Transplant Shock". GardeningCalendar.ca. Retrieved 2022-10-06.
  9. "The Reason Why You Shouldn't Use Sugar Water on Your Plants". The Spruce. Retrieved 2022-10-06.
  10. "Transplant shock: causes, ways to prevent and cure". TrustBasket. Retrieved 2022-10-06.
  11. "How to Repair Plants in Shock". Home Guides | SF Gate. Retrieved 2022-10-06.
  12. Antosh, Gary (2018-05-19). "Using Epsom Salts To Help Overcome Transplant Shock". Plant Care Today. Retrieved 2022-10-06.