Moving Mature Roses

When and How to Move a Mature Rose in Your Yard

By Bob Bauer

RIGHT NOW! As long as the ground isn’t frozen and can be shoveled. Mid-February to mid-March is the best time to move a rose bush. Why? Because it is still dormant and will not be greatly damaged or set back by moving it. In fact, if you do this correctly, your rose won’t miss a beat. Don’t forget that it is much more sketchy and difficult to move a rose which has already leafed out, or one that is in mid-season form.

  1. FIRST, dig a hole where you want to move your bush. The hole should be 2 feet in diameter and 18 inches deep. Set the soil to the side of the empty hole. If you already have decent soil, mix it with some potting soil to add some acidity to it. Make sure it is loose and free of rocks and sand. If your soil is basically bad you can use potting soil from a bag. Put a few inches of this new soil in the bottom of the hole.
  2. ONCE thehole is ready AND NOT BEFORE, you can now go over to the rose you are going to move and prune it heavily. Prune the main stems down to about two feet tall; it doesn’t hurt to be brutal here; in fact you don’t want too much on top of the bush because inevitably you are going to be cutting off some of the roots no matter how careful you might be.
  3. NEXT take your shovel and push it all the way down into the ground about 10 inches from the stem. Repeat this over and over again until you have cut a circular ring around your rose.
  4. PUSH the shovel all the way down again into the ring cut and gently lever the shovel down. Do this on all four sides of the rose until it is loose and you have a defined root ball with dirt that will come out all in one piece.
  5. IF your rose has a big taproot in the center that is keeping it from being released you will have to cut it with the blade of your shovel.
  6. ONCE the intact root ball with soil is separated from the ground you can now move it to the new hole.
  7. VERY CAREFULLY lift the rose and root ball out of the hole and move it over to the new hole, either carrying it or putting it in a wheelbarrow to move it. MAKE SURE not to disturb the roots too much or knock off too much of the root ball soil. The more careful you are in this step the easier your rose will adapt to its new home.
  8. PLACE the rose and root ball into the new hole and add the soil you previously set aside to fill up the hole. Ideally you want the bud union of the rose to be right at the surface of the new ground.
  9. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT now that you water the rose in well at this point and make sure to pay attention to watering it well until the rose has leafed out, which it should do at the same time as the other roses in your garden. If you do this right, your rose will not miss a beat and look great in its new home.