Transplanting Roses

I am moving and I want to take my rose bush with me. I planted it 5 years ago and it is big. I need to know how and when the best time to dig it up and replant it. Springfield, MA

I’ve gotten quite a few emails lately from people on the move that want to take their roses with them. Unfortunately, this late in the season is not an ideal time to dig up a rose and move it. The best time to move a rose is when it is dormant. However, we cannot always schedule our lives around our gardens.

If time allows, you can root prune your rose to help ease the move. You should begin this process three or four months before you transplant and repeat it once a month.

Take a sharpshooter (a very narrow, elongated shovel) and drive it into the ground in a circle around the crown of the rose. To determine the size of the circle take a look at the main canes of the rose. You want to make your circle nine inches in diameter for every inch of cane. Let’s say you have a rose with (2) one inch canes. Your circle should be eighteen inches in diameter. Root pruning will cause the rose to create more roots in the soil area that will be moved with the rose. This will help the rose to become established in its new location.

When moving any plant, always try to keep as much of the root system as you can. Use a sharp, narrow shovel to cut around the parameter of the shrub and remove as much of the root ball as possible. Often the soil may fall away from the roots, but that is okay. The plant will be fine.

It is handy to have a piece of this burlap around to use as a sling. Just put the plant in it and transport it to its new location. When placing a plant in the new hole make sure that the soil level is the same that it was in the previous location. Planting too deep can actually kill many plants.

Fill in with some good soil and compost and apply a root stimulator supplement around the roots and mulch it in.

Once the rose is in it’s new location, it needs to be pruned back about fifty percent. Any large canes will need to be sealed. You can buy sealer at your local garden center.

The key to survival is keeping the plant consistently moist. Be sure to give it plenty of water but don’t let it get soggy. I like to apply root stimulator monthly for the rest of the growing season.

Don’t be alarmed if the plant wilts on you. This should subside within about days. Keep your fingers crossed and with a little luck and blessings from Mother Nature your rose just might make it.