I will be moving to our new house soon and want to take my cannas and lilies
with me. They are still blooming and I wonder if I cant just cut them back
and when the time comes dig up the bulbs. Would this work?
Well...you know they want to be moved just before the frost, so they have as
much time as possible to grow. I'd wait till the last minute, and then dig
them up with as much soil as possible, even if that means buying the small
size boxes from U-Haul and lining them with trash bags. Then, get them back
in the ground before working on the house, which, as you know, is only 10%
as important as the garden and can go to hell for years without mattering
Right....that's why we dig them up. That also lets the air out of Warren's
comments. They may be part of the landscape when they're growing, but they
have a slim chance of living through the winter, unless you have exactly the
right mini-climate right by the foundation of the house. Even so...not
Thanks for all the help and comments. I should mention that the old house
will be empty when being shown as we are moving out prior to be going on the
market. So if I pull them, no problem.
As for the cannas. They seem to do well right where they are for the last
3-4 years. Never been dug up, just mulched well before frost.
Storm windows count as fixtures, too, even though they're removed from the
windows during certain seasons.
If it's the season that the storm windows aren't on the house, and they're
not stored on the property, the buyer should ask, but even if they don't,
they could still be entitled to the missing storm windows as they are
legally part of the real estate. If it's the season that the lily are
dug-up, and not in place, the buyer may still be entitled to the bulbs just
like the storm windows that aren't currently in place.
The OP has stated that they're going to be taking the bulbs before putting
the house on the market. But if the buyers are buying the house during the
season that the bulbs would normally be out of the ground, there is still
the possibility that they will be considered exactly like the storm windows
that aren't up in the off-season -- especially if there is an empty space in
the landscaping where the bulbs came from.
However, if some other landscaping replaces the missing lilies, you're into
a situation similar to a remodel. Just as a buyer isn't entitled to storm
windows replaced by new storm windows in a remodel, they wouldn't be
entitled to the old landscaping (the bulbs) when new landscaping replaces
them. (This, of course, would only apply to a situation in which the action
was taken before putting the house on the market.)
If the lilies are missing, and it's not the season that they would normally
be dug-up, then the OP could be safer in not replacing them with something
else, but I wouldn't say it's a slam-dunk. I can still imagine some valid
arguments the buyer could make in some convulsed situations. The deciding
factor in those cases may be the arguments made in defense of the missing
lilies, so it may still be advisable to put something else in that empty
Would a buyer make a stink about missing lilies bulbs that weren't in the
ground when they actually bought the house? Probably not. But they might be
a gardening nut, and they might have knowledge that lilies have always been
in those empty spots. Or if they have a big case of buyer's remorse they
might include it on a "laundry list" of problems post-sale. But even if it's
unlikely that they're raise the issue, it is such an easy thing to plant
something in their place, or listing lilies (or lily bulbs) as a fixture
that is being excluded from the sale just as people frequently list ornate
Why not do it right when doing it right is so simple? What's the incentive
do not do the right thing?
Re: that last question, I'd say common sense. If the BBQ's out in the
driveway when the realtor arrives with a couple of lookers, can it be
considered part of the house? If the lookers aren't gardeners, and don't
realize that in their particular climate, cannas come out of the ground in
the winter, can they seriously expect to make an issue out of the plants? In
this case, the "right thing" is to save the lives of the plants.
It depends on whether it's a built-in or a free standing BBQ. A free
standing BBQ is furnature. Personal property. Not a fixture. Not part of the
A built-in is a fixture, not matter how easily it can be removed. If a
fixture is normally removed seasonally, then it's still a fixture even if
it's not in place. It's not personal property. It's still part of the real
property. A buyer should perform due dilligence to make sure that the
missing fixture still exists, and will be left for them, but lack of due
dilligence by the buyer doesn't necessarily take the seller off the hook.
I never said not to save the life of the plants. The "right thing" is to
take down storm windows in the summer, too. But those actions do not affect
whether the items are fixtures, and part of the real property. The "right
thing" I'm referring to has to do with how you handle fixtures that will not
be part of the sale of the real property.
Technically, if it's the season that the bulbs should be out of the ground,
those bulbs are still part of the real property, and should be available to
the buyer to replant at the correct time. If that's not the intention, and
the seller wants to take the bulbs with them, they need to handle the
situation just like any other fixture: Either replace the fixture with
something else prior to putting the real property on the market, or
specifically exclude the fixture from the sale by including that exclusion
in the sales agreement.
Let me clarify one of my points.
I said, "Why not do the right thing?"
There are essentially three reasons: Accidential ommission, ignorance, or
fraud. Accidental ommission and ignorance can save a layman from punitive
damages, but if the issue is raised, they'd still have to take corrective
action, or compensate the buyer. Any broker involved cannot plead ignorance
about whether something is a fixture or not. They may be able to claim
ignorance of your unilateral actions, but if they know you did something,
even if you did it out of ignorance, their duty is to say something.
There also is a very real possiblity that the buyer may never realize that
anything is wrong, or that they have a cause of action. But what if they do?
Any broker that is aware of the situation, but gambles that the buyer won't
realize what they're entitled to is acting unethically even if the buyer
never realizes something is wrong.
The right thing is so simple. Either replace the fixture before putting the
real property on the market, or exclude it from the sale. Taking either of
these paths will resolve the issue completely. What is the incentive to
knowingly not exclude a fixture you're planning on taking with you from the
sale? The only incentive to not exclude the fixture from the sale is fraud.
Accidental ommission, or ommisoin because of ignorance is not an incentive.
Fraud is the only incentive. Are a few bulbs worth committing fraud?
What I'm asking is if you know that you're going to take a fixture with you,
other than fraud, what other incentive is there to not do the right thing?
Warren, your explanation of your viewpoint is legally and logically
beautiful, and it sounds like you're either a lawyer or an experienced
realtor. But, even the law allows for the fact that logic doesn't jive with
reality. If we're talking about a climate like mine, where cannas are
virtually guaranteed to die if left in the ground through the winter, you're
saying that they should be left in the ground. Or, maybe I should dig them
up, put them in a box, and give them to the buyers with a photograph of
their previous location, and planting instructions.
But, based on that logic, a buyer (albeit an intensely stupid one) could go
to court and say that when they put in their purchase offer, in early
September, there were leaves on the trees. However, when they finally took
possession in mid-October, the trees were bare and they now want some sort
of compensation. After all, those leaves were as much a part of the
landscape as the cannas.
I am a Realtor (r).
But, even the law allows for the fact that logic doesn't jive with
I NEVER said any such thing. I never even implied or infered such a thing.
In fact, I think I implied the oposite.
Leaving the cannas in the ground when they should have been lifted would be
neglecting normal maintenance. You don't get to stop maintaining the
property upon acceptance of an offer. You still have to mow the lawn. You
still have to vaccuum the carpet. You still have to fix a roof that starts
leaking. You're still the care taker of the property. Not lifting the bulbs
when they should be lifted is neglecting your responsiblity to maintain the
Just like storm windows, if you seasonally remove a fixture, the fixture
should remain on the property. Whether you bother to give the new owner
instructions is up to you. Plenty of homeowners have discovered that each
storm window only fits over a specific window, and the previous owner left
no instructions. It's not a very nice thing to do to the next owner, but
it's not required that you're nice. It's only required that you not take
fixtures with you unless you have an agreement to do so.
I'm not following why you think falling leaves has anything to do with the
The tree is a fixture. If you cut down, removed, or significantly damaged
the tree, there's a problem. But I don't understand how that has anything to
do with falling leaves. I don't follow how you can even twist the theory of
what's real property and what's personal property around to something as odd
as this. Your thought is definitely not following any kind of logic.
How did this become such a big deal? Plants are fixtures. Fixtures are part
of real property. When you sell the real property, the fixtures go with the
property. If a seller wants to remove a fixture, that needs to be part of
the agreement with the buyer. The property and the fixtures need to be
properly maintained by the seller between accepting an offer, and turning
over possession after closing.
If maintain the plant involves lifting the bulbs, then that process
continues regardless of what's happening with any sale of the property. The
seller continues maintaining the property as long as they own the property.
Once the buyer takes possession the buyer can do whatever they want with the
landscape (within the laws and CC&R's). At that point they, the new owner,
can dispose of any of the fixtures as they see fit.
There's nothing complex about this whole process. The problem comes when the
seller doesn't recognize a fixture is a fixture. And plants, with the
exception of the harvest from annual crops, are fixtures.
Remember to treat your cannas as fixtures. That is, if you intend to take
them with you, it needs to be part of the agreement with the buyer. If you
don't intend to take them with you, they need to be properly maintained. If
that includes lifting them for the season, so be it. The loose bulbs are
still fixtures just as storm windows are fixtures in the summer. Very
When we sell our place I'm taking as much of the garden with me as
possible. It's over-planted by most peoples' standards anyway & it'll
still look like a jungle even if I take my favorite least replaceable
perennials & half to two-thirds of the rhody collection (other big shrubs
probably won't be moved as it'd be too hard & some of them might not
survive uprooting, but rhodies are easy to move). The house is so big that
it'll probably sell to a family that wants more lawn for children & a dog
to play, & some of the gardens would be sacrified even if I left
everything behind. But it'll be discussed with potential buyers so that
nobody's unhappy with what happens.
We've only recently been giving these things consideration as we have a
lot of equity in the house due to skyrocketing values, & we're thinking we
could sell it & buy a serious country property & run a specialty nursery &
have chickens & wander about naked on the land if we want, stuff that's
hard to pull off on a city-suburban property. Plus my sweety wants to work
for a certain super cool non-profit that's an hour away, & land is still
relatively cheap halfway there. She works for a pretty good non-profit now
but they're always struggling financially & the politics of the joint are
getting un-fun. But maybe it's all pipedreaming & we'll stay right here.
-paghat the ratgirl
Get your Paghat the Ratgirl T-Shirt here:
The running around naked thing is worth whatever effort and financial
jiggering you have to do. My GF doesn't like living way out in the sticks,
in a house that's completely shielded from the road by masses of shrubs and
trees. Too far from some of what she likes in the city. But...the naked
advantage....that's the main selling point. Her only problem occurred about
3 weeks back, after a major storm ripped through the area. While sunbathing,
she was reminded that the electric company sometimes uses a helicopter to
located downed power lines. :)
Yep. It's that simple! That's all I'm saying. The buyer should be aware
whenever a fixture isn't going to stay, and if it's planted in the ground
(even only part of the year like a bulb or tuber that gets lifted), it's a
Your sales contract can simply state certain elements of the landscaping
will be removed as per discussion. How well you document the discussion may
depend on the buyer, although in the current state in most real estate
markets, if you don't like the buyer, and have any hint that they're going
to be litigious, you can reject their offer, and someone more reasonable
will come along soon enough.
Still, someone's love can be undocumented, but their commitment may only be
as good as the documentation that goes with it. ;)
Now I *really* think you're a lawyer! Squirrels move 20% of the bulbs
around, or completely away from my property. Should I put a waver in the
sales contract when I sell this place??? That's really catering to a stupid
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