Not a puzzle!

Dear Martin

I have the offer of a 6ft monkey puzzle tree that needs to be moved from one garden to another.

Please could you tell us: when is the best time to move the tree? We were thinking late autumn would be possible.

Where is the best place to put this tree? We have gardens going round 3/4s of our home so there are several possibilities when we know what weather it dislikes and how tall it could grow to be.

Any tips on moving it?

How deep should the tree be put in the ground when we have managed to remove it?

I look forward to your reply. My partner has always wanted a monkey puzzle tree but we know nothing about annual growth of these pretty items!


Penny Black

PS Has everyone else’s tomatoes outside turned mauve? Except the cherry ones!

Dear Penny

Many thanks for your recent enquiry concerning the monkey puzzle tree (Auracaria auracana) you’ve been offered. Although slow to grow, these trees can reach up to 25m in height and spread around 10m so it’s worth choosing a suitable spot now rather than attempt to move the tree again at a later date.

Monkey puzzle trees prefer moist soil which is well drained and also appreciate cool and humid conditions. It’s definitely best to move the tree in late autumn; the soil is generally warmer after a summer and the first frosts haven’t taken hold. Try to get as much of the existing roots out as possible as although this can be a struggle as the roots tend to be narrow and long, the bigger the root system you remove the more chance the tree has of flourishing after the move.

I’d advise digging plenty of soil improver – leaf mould is excellent – into the planting hole and if you look on the trunk you’ll be able to see the depth it was previously planted at, so use this as a guide. Water the planted tree in well and mulch around the trunk to retain the moisture and you should be ok!

With regard to your tomatoes, it’s usually a sign of temperature fluctuations which causes leaves to turn purple. If it’s particularly hot during the day but cooler in the morning and evening, then the leaves of the plants show this colouring and begin to curl. It’s nothing to worry about; just cover them up with fleece at night to keep them going for a few more weeks!

I hope this information helps but if you’ve any further questions and queries, please don’t hesitate to contact me – and watch out for the spines on the monkey puzzle tree!