How to Transplant a Large Rhododendron


Rhododendrons are small to medium shrubs that bloom a large flower in late spring through summer. The blooms are vibrant in color and can range from pink to white. Rhododendrons enjoy acidic soil and partial to full shade when planted outdoors. The soil must be well-drained to prevent root--the root system to a rhododendron is very large. These shrubs tolerate bring transplanted very well, and thrive in new locations, provided their needs are met. The difficulty in transplanting comes with the size of the root system. According to Cornell University Extension, rhododendrons should be transplanted in the spring to prevent disease and illness.

Step 1

Dig around the root system, creating a trench 12 to 18 inches deep. Begin pushing the spade shovel into the soil at least 3 feet from the base of the shrub to maintain as much of the root system as possible. Detach the roots from the soil by lifting the shovel upward from below the plant.

Step 2

Remove the rhododendron by prying it from the ground with the spade shovel. Use the shovel to gain leverage on the soil near the newly dug trench and lift out. Tilt the root ball, sliding a tarp under the shrub to make transportation easier. Slide the tarp to the new planting location.

Step 3

Dig a large hole for the rhododendron. Measure it to 9 feet in diameter and the depth of the root ball. Place the shrub into the hole and backfill with the removed soil. Firm the soil around the base of the rhododendron to secure it in place. Mound the soil around the trunk, allowing a slope to sweep away from the plant.

Step 4

Water the shrub generously until the soil around it is moist. Apply 2 inches of mulch to the entire area, avoiding direct contact with the trunk and branches. Apply a shrub fertilizer, following the package directions, in the spring and fall.

Things You'll Need

  • Shade shovel
  • Tarp
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer


  • Ohio State University Extension: Rhododendron
  • University of Illinois: Planting Azaleas and Rhododendrons
  • Texas A&M University: Care and Handling of Micropropagated Plants
  • Cornell University Extension: When to Plant/Transplant Trees
Keywords: rhododendron shrub, transplant rhododendron, rhododendron roots

About this Author

Christina Wheeler has been a professional freelance writer since 2007. She lends her expertise in animal care, gardening and home improvement to online publications such as Garden Guides and eHow. Wheeler studied business management at Ohio University.