How to Transplant or Move a Rose Bush

There may come a time when you wish to move a rose to a more ideal location in your garden or landscape. Or the rose has outgrown the spot where it currently lives and it needs to be moved. You will be pleased to know that roses are quite adaptable to being placed in a ‘new’ home. However roses do not like to ‘rent’ or ‘lease’ their place in the garden. They want a brand new home, a place where nothing has previously been planted.  In this regard you will find the rose species a bit finicky. But not to worry; we’ll give you advice that will make transplanting a rose fairly simple and successful.

We will present two methods of transplanting and you can decide which will work best for your situation. First of all, timing is important. The best time to transplant a rose is in the early spring when the rose is still dormant. This will cause less stress and shock to the plant. Wait until all threat of frost or freezing weather has passed. Cut the rose canes back to 10-12 inches and remove all foliage, if there is any. Dig a new hole for the rose and make sure that there is good drainage. (If you’re not sure about drainage, dig your hole, fill it with water and come back in an hour. If the water has drained out, you have a good spot. If not, select another place. Roses do not like to have ‘wet feet’ or roots; they will fail to grow).  Next, dig far enough away from the root ball that you do not damage the roots and are able to take as much root as possible. Mix equal amounts of mulch, potting soil and peat moss together and add ½ of this mixture around the roots after placing the root ball into the new hole. Water the soil well when the planting hole is only half filled and allow the water to settle (you may need to adjust the height of the rose at this point if the soil sank an excessive amount).  Add the remainder of the soil mixture and water again. Water the rose every day for at least a week or two depending on your weather. Do not fertilize or use any insecticides until you see new growth on the rose.

The second method of transplanting takes place during the growing season. Roses are tougher than you think and can be moved during the growing season if they have the right amount of water. A liquid vitamin B1 transplanting fertilizer purchased from your local nursery will help in getting the rose to adjust when moving. You want to water deeply before transplanting, so all the cells of the rose are as full of water as possible. This lessens the demands on the roots. Again, dig far enough away from the root ball that you do not damage the roots and are able to take as much of the root as possible. If the rose is wilting when transplanted it may not survive. You can elect not to cut the rose back letting it decide how much of its top it can support. It will tell you by wilting at the tips, which is a sign to increase watering. The material that does not recover within a few days of liberal watering needs to be removed at that time. Prune any dried or dead material from the plant. Or you can elect to cut the taller canes down to a manageable height before digging it up. Some prefer to match the height of the rose canes to the size of the root ball, which is acceptable also. Again, wait until there is new growth to resume regular fertilizing.  Always remember that fertilizers need water in order to work; fertilizers are essentially salts and can burn your rose if enough water isn’t applied.  It is good practice to water the rose both before and after applying any fertilizer.