A rose that is not performing as well as other roses or is being hampered by shrubs and perennials that are competing for light and nutrients may need to be moved to be at its best. The best time to transplant roses is from May to mid-June. Keep scrolling for eight steps to follow to transplant roses with ease.

How to transplant roses

  1. Wait for a cool, cloudy day or a day after rain before transplanting a rose. This way they will experience less shock than they would after dry periods or in heat.
  2. Find the right position for the rose based on its height and flower colour. If you are moving several roses at a time, label them with the height and colour before digging them up.
  3. Prepare the new hole for the transfer. By digging the new hole first, you are exposing the roots to the elements as little as possible. Dig a hole at least twice the size of the existing root ball vertically and horizontally. You may have to resort to a bit of guesswork here to establish the size of the root ball you still need to dig up. A bit of maths will help: Divide the height of the rose by 4 and the width by 2. This will be the approximate size of the roots. For example: a rose that is 1 meter high and 0.5 meters wide would have an approximate root ball size of 25 x 25cm. The hole then needs to be 50cm wide and 50cm deep.
  4. Prepare the soil. Add a good dose of compost to the bottom of the hole and fork it into the subsoil. Add more compost to the soil removed from the hole and mix that in well. Make a cone of soil in the base of the hole to place the roots on. 
  5. Cut back the rose. This is essential to reduce stress on the roots. It also makes it quicker and easier for the plant to establish in its new position. Cut the stems to 40cm in height. Prune out any rose briar or rootstocks that are growing from below ground level and remove any dead or weak stems. Cut at an angle about 5-8mm above an outward-facing bud. Remove all the leaves and any untidy or crossing growth. 
  6. Dig out the rose by placing a spade into the soil at least 20cm from the centre of the bush and make a circle around the plant. Once the whole circle is outlined, gently pry out the plant with the spade. This process cuts off some of the roots, but the idea is to keep as many in the root ball as possible and not to disturb it too much. If it resists, wriggle the spade a bit more and work slowly. Deeper roots can be cut off with the spade or a pair of secateurs.
  7. Move the rose to the newly prepared hole and gently tease the roots underneath before placing over the cone of soil. Check for any dead roots and cut these away before planting. The bud union should be planted just below the soil level. If you can’t plant the roses straightaway, the roots need to be kept cool by covering with a damp cloth. 
  8. Once the rose has been replanted, water it in well and continue to water weekly until the roses are properly established. 


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