When you must move a rose bush, it is best to wait until the rose bush enters the dormancy stage. While the spring and the autumn are both suitable for transplanting a rose bush, the spring might be a better choice so the newly transplanted rose bush is not exposed to winter temperatures after transplanting. With careful pruning prior to digging up the rose bush and attentively giving the rose bush adequate water after moving it, the rose bush should survive the move and continue to thrive.
Provide a thorough watering the evening before you plan to dig up the rose bush. This will ensure the soil is easy to work as you dig. Soil that is easy to work with will help to protect the roots as you move the rose bush.
Prune the rose bush by removing approximately a third of each branch prior to moving it. Make the cuts at 45-degree angles and make each cut approximately a quarter inch above a bud that is facing out from the center of the rose bush. Reduce the overall size of the rose bush by a third.
Place the tip of the shovel approximately 1.5 feet away from the center of the rose bush and begin to dig. Dig a perimeter around the entire rose bush and then continue to dig deeper to loosen the rose bush from the soil. Do not disturb or damage the roots as you dig. Move your shovel out further if you find you are digging into roots.
Continue to dig around and under the rose bush until you have loosened the rose bush completely from its growing location. Take extreme care not to damage the root system during this process.
Prepare the new hole for the rose bush. Dig the hole 2 to 3 inches deeper and wider than the root system of the rose bush. Add two shovelfuls of compost to the bottom of the new hole prior to placing the rose bush in the hole.
Place the rose bush into the prepared hole, making sure it will be at the same level as it was previously growing. Carefully add soil to the hole around the roots until you have filled with hole with soil completely. Pat the soil firmly around the base of the rose bush.
Provide a thorough watering of the newly transplanted rose bush. During the first two to three weeks after transplanting, water the rose bush two to three times per week to keep it from drying out.