How to Transplant a Rose Bush

Roses (Rosa spp.) are deciduous shrubs known for their fragrant, colorful flowers. Many gardeners include a rose bush in their landscape to bring cut flowers indoors to enjoy or simply for the beauty it adds to the landscape. Although many roses available today are considered low-maintenance, they are a focal point in the landscape that requires some care.

That formerly petite rose you planted seems to reach out and grab you every time you walk down the sidewalk. Pruning can only go so far: it’s time to relocate that overgrown plant. Perhaps your rose used to bloom so profusely that you couldn’t see the leaves, but now it’s struggling to survive. A new home could be the answer.

I’ve spoken with many gardeners who are concerned, believing that moving a rose once it’s in the ground is a bad idea. But that is not the case!

I once moved a full-blooming rose in the middle of summer, and it continued to flower as if nothing had happened. If the plant is harmed, it will most likely only survive for a short period.

The plant may be a little stressed from the move, but don’t worry. If you follow the steps outlined below, it will most likely not even blink.

Why Should You Transplant Roses?

Transplant Rose

Roses have an undeserved reputation for being difficult to cultivate. That assertion is mostly false; many types of roses are simple to grow for novice and experienced gardeners. Roses, like all plants, require certain conditions to thrive, one of which is the proper location.

You may need to transplant your roses for a variety of reasons. Roses require a lot of sunlight to thrive. If you plant your rose bush in an area with too much shade, it will not thrive. You can move the rose to a more suitable location with better lighting.

Roses require good drainage as well. If your rose bush is in a low spot or remains soggy, it needs to be transplanted to a better location with better soil. Compost should be added to the existing soil to create a high-quality loam.

Furthermore, gardeners frequently fail to consider the mature size of their shrubs before planting. Allowing enough space for your full-size rose solves several overcrowding issues. Leaving enough space between plants allows for good air circulation, which improves plant health and helps to prevent disease spread.

When Is the Best Time to Plant a Rose Bush?

Rose Bush

If the weather permits digging the soil, I prefer to transplant rose bushes in early spring, around the middle to end of April. If the weather remains rainy and cool, early May is still an excellent time to transplant roses. The goal is to transplant rose bushes early in the spring before they emerge from dormancy and begin to thrive. However, regardless of the season, it is best to act quickly if your plant is in distress.

In terms of weather, a good rule of thumb is to remember the three qualities: cool, cloudy, and rainy.

If you move your rose on a cool or cloudy day or the day after it has rained, it will be less shocked. You could even move it in a drizzle, but if you’ve had a deluge, let the ground dry out slightly.

Cool, cloudy, and post-rain days are ideal because more moisture is available and less drying sunlight and heat. The fact that you’ll be much less sweaty is just a bonus.

How Can I Transplant A Rose Bush?

Here are steps to successfully transplant your rose bush.

1. Get Your Rose Bush Ready

Rose bushes must be pruned before being transplanted. Water them every day for a week before your planned transplant date. Make sure to soak your roses thoroughly, keeping the ground moist at all times.

Make the bush more compact by pruning it. It will not only look better but there is also a practical reason to prune. Digging up the rose will almost certainly result in the loss of some roots, reducing support for the above-ground growth. Pruning or cutting back helps to balance the plant and increases the chances of a successful transplant.

Wrap the plant in burlap right before transplanting, or use burlap strips or rope to tie the canes together gently. You can skip this step if the plant is small, but anything wider than two feet should be contained.

2. Create a New Hole

Make a new hole before you start digging up the plant. As a result, your rose’s roots will be exposed to the elements for as little time as possible. Dig a new location for your rose bush with a garden trowel. Create a hole about 15 inches (38 cm) deep. In addition, the hole should be at least 12 inches (30 cm) wide or large enough to accommodate your rose bush. It should be wide and deep enough for the root ball of the bush to sit comfortably and spread its roots. Use the measuring tape to get the measurements of the hole right. Roses thrive in fertile soil rich in organic matter, so incorporate plenty of compost into your garden bed. 

Remove all debris and weeds from the area with your hands or a trowel. Make sure the weeds come off with intact roots when you pull them with gloved hands. If the roots are left in the soil, they will regrow quickly.

Roses thrive when kept apart from other plants. Plant your rose bush in the garden, with other roses, or by itself. 

Choose a location where the roses can permanently reside so they will not have to be transported later. 

Poorly draining soil can become waterlogged, causing damage to the rose bush’s sensitive roots. As a result, ensure that the soil drains quickly. Fill a hole 18 inches deep and wide with water to accomplish this. The soil needs to be amended if the water does not drain from the hole within an hour.

3. Remove the Rose Bush with Care

Examine the rose bush with gloves on and pruning shears in hand before digging it up. Remove any spent flowers to protect the plant’s resources. It’s time to pick up that shovel again and relocate your plant. To make the job easier, use a pointed or round digger. Then, begin digging down straight. When you’re ready to dig up the bush, start early in the morning before it gets too hot to avoid dehydrating the plant.

You are not attempting to remove dirt but rather to separate the root ball from the surrounding soil.

For a small rose less than a foot tall, push the shovel down into the soil as deeply as possible with your foot. This should be done around the perimeter. Dig around the drip line of the rose bush with the shovel, going as deep as 18 to 20 inches into the soil. If you come across a large root while digging, cut it with pruning shears and continue digging until you reach the recommended depth.

Push the shovel under the bush’s root system from all sides to dislodge the plant. Continue to work around the root ball until it loosens and falls off on its own.

You can now take it out and place it on the burlap. Examine the roots as soon as possible and remove any that are damaged. Then, tightly wrap the burlap around them to keep the moisture in.

4. Plant the Rose Bush

If you end up with a large ball of soil, place your dug-up plant on a tarp and drag it or ferry it over in a wheelbarrow to its new location. If the plant is small enough for you to handle, carry it to its new location.

To free up the roots, gently loosen the soil at the base of the root ball. Then, spread those over the soil cone you made, encouraging the roots to spread instead of binding up or growing straight down.

If you can’t dig a large enough hole to contain the roots, you can use a pair of secateurs to trim some outliers so that the whole thing fits.

However, once it’s in the ground, you’ll need to cut back some of the canes so the roots can support the top. Trim the rose to about two-thirds of its original size.

5. Thoroughly Wet the Half-Filled Hole.

Water the bush thoroughly with the garden hose. The hole should be filled with water. Wait for the hole to absorb the water completely. This should take between 20 and 30 minutes.

More soil should be added and tamped every few inches. When the hole is full and level with the rest of the area, create a raised edge about 2 inches high around the drip line of the bush to catch the water.

Water the rose bush thoroughly again and allow the water to drain. From now on, give the bush one inch of water per week, plus any rainfall.

Transplanting the rose bush is frequently required to keep it growing well and to ensure an abundance of blooms each year.

Only transplant the bush when it is dormant in early spring or late fall. Avoid fertilizing the newly planted bush and watering it regularly to reduce transplant shock. Moving a plant may appear to be a lot of work, but you’ll be so much happier once your rose is in a better location, and so will your plant.

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