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Transplanting a Surinam Cherry Tree

Q: I have just found out that I have a Surinam Cherry Tree. It was there when we moved in 7 years ago. I never knew what it was so I would chop it to the ground every year. It is planted very close to the house on the north side with no sun. This year I let it grow and it actually has blooms on it. My question is, I would like to move it away from the house to a different location. We have 5 acres and most of it is shade. Should I plant it in the shade? And will it live if I transplant it? Also, how deep do the roots grow?

Hardiness Zone: 9b

Thanks for any help!
Sherry from Winter Haven, Florida

A: Surinam Cherry trees are often grown in Florida as hedges, so isn't surprising that even after severe "chopping" yours keeps coming back. The dwarf versions of this tree are also popularly used as an outdoor tropical bonsai trees. I'm not sure how deep the roots of a Surinam grow, but according to the University of Florida, they are usually not a problem if you decide to keep it where it is.

In regards to transplanting your Surinam, as a general rule, the younger the tree is the less likely it is to suffer from transplant shock. That said, if its size is something you can manage, you can probably transplant it successfully as long as you dig out enough of a root ball.

A rule I like to use is to measure the diameter of the tree's trunk and multiply that number by 18. That number will be the diameter of your root ball. Once you have the diameter marked off, dig down to a depth to 12-24 inches so that you get below all the major roots and remove the tree (dig down at a slant toward the trunk). Place you tree in a pre-dug hole at same depth it was growing and fill the hole back up using most of the same soil you removed from it. You can add a little bit of high-quality compost and garden topsoil(no more than 30%).

Make sure the soil around the edges of the soil is loose enough to allow the roots to spread out. Don't use too much compost or the roots will just end up developing around the enriched area and fail to spread out.

Surinam Cherry Trees will grow in sun to partial shade, and fairly poor soil, but make sure the site is well-drained.

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March 31, 20060 found this helpful

Thank you for your response. I never knew the formula for judging root ball size. That is a great thing to know. As far as the Cherry Tree goes, I think I will try to move it to a location that gets 3-4 hours a day of sun and see how it does. The blooms that were on the tree never got to mature due to a late central Florida frost. At least that's what I believe happened to it. But we will keep trying.

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May 29, 20060 found this helpful

Dec 09, 2005 Transplanted Full Grown Surinam Cherry tree from somewhat shady area to sunny area.

May 27, 2006, tree is bearing first fruit after only 5 months 18 days. Wea re very pleased.

The root was cut to ball size 2 1/2 ft square.

Used Miracal Grow to help it. Soakwatered it every other LATE afternoon.

Kaneohe Hawaii

What I'd like to know is, where did the Surinam originate from? Anybody know


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June 5, 20060 found this helpful

Kaneohe Man,

Thank you for all the great info. My tree is still sitting in the same spot and getting very big. But I am very optomistic now and have the courage to move it. We don't have alot of sunny locations on our 5 acre property. We have lots of trees. But I will find somewhere. I'm very anxious for it to bare fruit. Thanks again!!

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