Transplant or Move a Rose Bush

There may come a time when you wish to move a rose to a more ideal location, or the rose has outgrown the spot where it currently lives. Roses are quite adaptable to being placed in a ‘new’ home. However they do not like to “rent” or “lease” their place in the garden.

Roses want a brand new home, a place where nothing has previously been planted. In this regard the rose species can be a bit finicky. But don’t worry. Follow our advice and transplanting will be simple and successful.

Two Methods for Transplanting Roses

  1. Dormant Transplanting

The best time to transplant a rose is in early spring when the rose is still dormant. This causes less stress and shock to the plant.

  • Timing is everything. Wait until all threat of frost or freezing weather has passed.
  • Reduce plant size. Cut the rose canes back to 10 to 12 inches and remove all foliage, if there is any.
  • Dig a new hole. 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. TIP: Roses do not like to have “wet feet” (roots) or they will fail to grow.
  • Remove the rose. Dig far enough away from the root ball so that roots are not damaged. The goal is to take as many of the roots as possible. Gently transfer it to the new hole. If the plant is large, it can be helpful to drag it to the hole on a tarp.
  • Amend the soil. In a bucket or wheelbarrow, mix equal amounts of mulch, potting soil, and peat moss together. Add ½ of this mixture around the roots.
  • Water the soil well when the planting hole is only half filled. 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 remaining soil mixture and water again. Water the rose every day for a week or two depending on your weather.
  • Do not fertilize or use any insecticides until you see new growth on the rose.

2. Non-dormant Transplanting

This method 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.

  • Prep your rose. A liquid vitamin B1 transplanting fertilizer purchased from your local nursery will help the rose adjust to the move.
  • Water deeply before transplanting. The rose should be fully hydrated so that all of its cells are as full of water as possible. This lessens the demands on the roots.
  • Reduce plant size. Prune out any dried or dead material from the plant. You can elect to cut the taller canes down to a manageable height before digging up the rose. Some gardeners prefer to match the height of the rose canes to the size of the root ball, which is acceptable also. Note: 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.
  • Dig a new hole. 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. TIP: Roses do not like to have “wet feet” (roots) or they will fail to grow.
  • Remove the rose. Dig far enough away from the root ball so that roots are not damaged. The goal is to take as many of the roots as possible. Gently transfer it to the new hole. If the plant is large, it can be helpful to drag it to the hole on a tarp. Note: If the rose wilts when transplanted, it may not survive.
  • Amend the soil. In a bucket or wheelbarrow, mix equal amounts of mulch, potting soil, and peat moss together. Add ½ of this mixture around the roots.
  • Water the soil well when the planting hole is only half filled. 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 remaining soil mixture and water again. Water the rose every day for a week or two depending on your weather.
  • Do not fertilize or use any insecticides until you see new growth on the rose.

TIP TO REMEMBER: Fertilizers need water in order to work. Fertilizers are essentially salts. They can burn a rose’s roots if enough water is not present. Therefore, always water roses before and after applying any fertilizer.