Roses, like many plants, do not like to be moved. So transplanting rosebushes, no matter how temporary the move, can send them into a state of shock from which they might not recover. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to resort to a temporary move to save a rosebush from nearby construction. Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize the shock involved in moving roses. Once they are re-established, you can also take steps to help them recover.
Choose a younger rosebush for moving. As a general rule, the older a plant is, the less likely it will be to recover from transplant shock.
Wait until your rosebush is dormant to transplant it. The best time is usually between late fall and early spring, before the first new growth appears on the tips of rose canes.
Put on heavy-duty garden gloves before working with a rosebush to protect your hands from injury caused by the rosebush's sharp thorns.
Water your rosebush with a garden hose daily for seven days preceding the day you plan to dig up the bush. This will loosen the soil around the roots of the plant.
Prepare a holding place for your rosebushes. Since the move is temporary, they should not be buried in the ground. Doing so may cause you to further injure the roots when you dig them up. Instead, have ready a container with rich potting soil.
Insert a shovel into the ground outside of the rosebush's root ball. Continue to insert the shovel into the ground in a circle around the root ball.
Support the plant at its base with one hand, and carefully lift it free of the soil. Shake loose dirt away from the root while taking care to leave as many roots intact as possible. A rose that has to re-grow roots will not survive transplant as well as one with the root system intact.
Prune rose canes so that they are the same length as the roots. Cut each cane just above a point where a leaf or flower stem emerges. Remove all leaves from the canes so that the rose will not grow foliage before the roots can become established
Place the root ball in the container, cover with sawdust and water well. Roots should be kept moist during the holding period.
Scratch deep furrows into the bottom and sides of the open planting hole, then work compost and a well-balanced (10-10-10), granulated fertilizer into the furrows. Roses are heavy feeders, and since you are returning your rosebush to it's former place, the soil will need additional nutrients to replace those the rose has absorbed in the past.
Remove the rosebush from the temporary container and place it into the hole when it is time to move the rosebush back to the original planting area. Fill in the sides and over the top of the roots with soil.
Mound mulch over the roots to help hold moisture in, then water well. Keep rosebush roots well-watered while plant becomes established. Soil should remain as damp as a wrung-out sponge.