How to transplant a rose bush
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Everything You Need to Know About Successfully Transplanting a Rose Bush

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Feb. 24 2021, Published 3:05 p.m. ET

The Red Queen might have made a big deal about her rose bushes, but we’re here to tell you that transplanting a rose bush is not nearly as complex (or decapitation-worthy) as the maniacal monarch’s unfortunate gardeners might have you believe. With the right tools and a little know-how, even the greenest of gardeners can learn how to transplant a rose bush, and how to keep it blooming. 

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how to transplant rose bush
Source: Getty Images

There are two ways to transplant a rose bush.

According to Heirloom Roses, there are two distinct ways to transplant a rose bush: the first, dormant transplanting, involves planting a rose in early spring before it has bloomed. The second, non-dormant transplanting, takes place during the growing season when the roses are a little tougher and more mature. 

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How dormant transplanting works:

Dormant transplanting is usually done because it causes less stress and shock to a newer, younger rose bush. Heirloom Roses recommends waiting to begin the process until the threat of frost and freezing weather has passed.

Step 1: Cut the rose canes back to about 10 to 12 inches and remove all remaining foliage. You can remove the rose from the ground by digging far enough away from the root ball, so the roots are not damaged. 

Step 2: Dig a new hole — one that is big enough to fit the entire root ball of the plant. Make sure your soil has good drainage, as roses don’t grow well when their roots are oversaturated. 

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Step 3: Enhance the soil in the new hole by mixing together equal amounts of garden soil, mulch, potting soil, and peat moss. Add about half the mixture around the roots. 

Step 4: When the planting hole is about half-filled with soil, water all around the plant and let it settle. Add the remaining soil and water once more. The entire root ball should be covered. 

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Heirloom Roses recommends watering daily and avoiding fertilizer and insecticides until after the rose has shown new growth.

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How non-dormant transplanting works:

Non-dormant transplanting is effective for strong and established bushes. That said, improper transplantation could lead to stress or shock, so you’ll have to move the rose carefully. According to Millcreek Gardens, the process for transplanting a non-dormant rose works as follows:

Step 1: Roses need some preparation before being transplanted, so it’s important to water them thoroughly a few days before the move. 

Step 2: Prepare the new spot by digging a hole that is roughly as wide as the spread of the rose canes. You can also prepare your soil ahead of time by enriching it with compost or other organic matter. The final soil mix should be the same recommended blend of equal parts garden soil, mulch, potting soil, and peat moss. 

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Step 3: Trimming away the rose canes to about 10 or 12 inches in length will help make it easier to move. This pruning will also encourage new, less stressful growth and nutrient absorption at the new site. 

Step 4: Gently dig out the rose bush by digging a circle about 9 inches from the drip line of your rose bush itself. Once you can slip the shovel under the root ball, pry it up and out, taking as much soil and roots as you can. 

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Step 5: Replant the rose bush in the new hole by placing the root ball in the hole and filling halfway with the soil mixture. Water thoroughly, then fill the rest of the way and water again. The entire root ball should be covered. 

For thriving, healthy rose bushes, feel free to use organic fertilizer after you’re done transplanting, but don’t use any insecticides or chemicals until you see new growth. 

What to do if your transplanted rose is wilting:

In both cases, you’ll need to keep your rose thoroughly watered. You should be able to see some new growth within a few days, but stressed-out rose bushes might take a bit longer to acclimate to their new situation. According to Star Roses & Plants, some rose bushes will begin to wilt slightly following a transplant. Don’t be discouraged, simply cut back any branches or leaves that don’t appear to be producing new growth after a few days. 

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