Transplanting and Moving Rose Bushes

by Ron Daniels
ARS Master Consulting Rosarian and Master Gardener


The first thing you need to know is when to transplant your roses. Roses need to be dormant or going dormant, not actively growing, when they are moved. Late winter to early spring is the best time. In our zone #7, December through the first of February is the ideal time.

Carefully dig around the plant with a sharp spade or shovel.
The day before you transplant your rose bushes, water the soil around the rose bush very well. This will make it easier to dig and ensure that the plant is hydrated. This will also help the bushes from being in shock from the transplanting.

Carefully dig around the plant ( 18″ – 24″) to cut roots on all sides with a sharp spade or shovel. Lift the root ball of the dormant plant from the ground with a shovel, taking care to damage as few of the roots as possible. Place it on a tarp or piece of plastic or put it in a large nursery pot to transport it to the new site.

Prune any broken roots.
Prune any broken roots before planting it at the new site. Cut the canes back by 1/2 to compensate for root loss.

Have the new site ready to plant with the hole already dug. I like to put a shovel full of organic matter, i.e. bone meal, worm castings, or cow manure) at the bottom of the hole. My personal favorite is Holy Cow Soil Survive & Thrive. This will help new and old roots start growing.

Be sure to label if you are moving more than one bush.
Water thoroughly and mound the mulch around the bush to protect the rose for the remainder of the winter. If there has been no rain, then water every 7 days. There is no need to fertilize at this time.

If you are transplanting to large pots, use the same above process.

Roses are very resilient and will do well in the upcoming Spring. I have moved over 100 rose bushes with great success.