Streambank Revegetation and Protection: A Guide for Alaska
Plant Care and Preparation



A sprig is the smallest transplant unit, consisting of a single shoot with roots. Grasses and sedges are often transplanted as sprigs. Species with a rhizomatous (underground stem) growth form are most suited for sprigging. Sprigs are often planted in wetlands.

Prepare the site for planting. If soil is compacted, scarify soil. If soil is denuded of nutrients, consider adding a fertilizer. Be sure any fertilizer does not leave site.

Digging transplants may occur throughout the growing season. However in the early spring, the ice that is still in the ground limits digging. Digging transplants can occur after the ground has thawed and before frost (preferably before mid-August to promote root growth). New roots need time to develop before the onset of winter. Carefully dig and separate the plants into sprigs (a shoot with roots and a rhizome). Trim shoot, especially if it is flowering or setting seed.

Place newly harvested sprigs in a bucket with water. Do not pack plants too tightly to avoid breaking roots or rhizomes. Be sure to keep the sprig moist and out of wind and sunlight during transportation. Harvest only the number of sprigs that can be planted the same day.

Plant a sprig by sticking a shovel in the ground perpendicularly, push it forward to create a small opening, place the sprig in the opening, remove the shovel and then firm the ground around the sprig. Care should be taken to ensure that the entire root system is covered by soil. A more extensive discussion of sprigging is found in Beach Wildrye: Planting Guide for Alaska (Wright, 1994).