Transplanting old rose bushes--either because they're obstructing something or because you're moving to a new house and can't stand to say goodbye to the trusty old bloomer in your backyard--takes time, care and patience. Nevertheless, it can be done. Using the proper methods, transplanted rose bushes--regardless of age--will soon be their old flowering selves in their brand-new homes.
Wait until winter dormancy to transplant the old rose bush. A week before your scheduled transplant date, start watering the old rose bush every day. Soak the ground and make sure it stays moist at all times.
Dig a new hole for the rose bush at least 18 inches wide and 15 inches deep. Put organic matter in the hole, such as mulch, peat moss or potting soil, so your old rose bush can have a good feeding once it's settled in its new home.
Prune the old rose bush back to four or five strong canes. Remove all leaves and stems. Use clippers and make clean cuts.
Using your shovel, dig a circle around the old rose bush at least 9 inches beyond its drip line. Cut off any roots you may encounter. Dig down until you can slip your shovel under the rose bush, generally around 15 inches. Position your shovel completely under the rose and give the handle a good push to lift the old rose bush out of the ground. Most of the soil will fall off naturally from the roots.
Go back to the new hole and make a mound of soil. Spread out the roots of the old rose bush and set the plant on the mound of soil. Make sure the crown is at the same level it was originally.
Fill the hole halfway with soil, using your fingers to push the soil through the root ball. Flood the hole with water and let it soak in.
Shovel in more soil to fill the hole, and water again to the point of flooding. Make a ring around the rose with soil; water again.
Pour in some rose fertilizer and cover with organic mulch. Give the rose about an inch of water a week and it should take nicely to its new home.