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How to Move a Rose Bush

Roses offer endless opportunities for versatile garden display--from containers to beds, groupings or eye catching, stand alone stars. Perhaps surprisingly, there are both high and low maintenance varieties, giving every level of gardener hope that their beauty can be included in a personal garden plan. Roses do best with rich mixtures of well-drained soil, in sites where they can receive at least six hours of full sun each day. Clean old and new beds of any fallen leaves or plant material which may harbor disease or pests before a move. Roses may last more than 15 years with good care.


Wait until the rose is dormant to move it. Late winter and early spring are excellent times to both prune and move the plants. The only months you should avoid moving a rose bush are the summer months. Moving a rose bush while it is actively growing will put undue stress on it, and could cause it to wilt or even to die.

Prepare the new bed by tilling in a large amount of organic matter and peat moss. If you plan to move roses during a cold weather month, you can prepare the bed ahead of time, in anticipation of the move.

Water the rose the day before you plan to move it. Dig the rose from its old home, keeping the soil intact around the roots. Prune the canes before or after the move. The type of rose will determine the amount of pruning needed, if any. Generally, remove dead or weak canes, perform any needed shaping and cut off any winter damage.

Create a hole 18 inches wide, but only as deep as the root ball of the rose. Add the bush to the hole, adjusting the height of the plant so that the bud union is slightly above the level of the ground. Slowly refill the hole with soil (add compost or organic matter if you have not prepared a bed ahead of time), spreading the roots out and eliminating pockets of air as you work. Press to firm the soil, but do not pack it tightly.

Water sufficiently to reach the deepest portions of the root ball. Continue to water as often as needed to keep the soil moist while the roots develop and the plant establishes itself in its new spot. Mulching is optional, but a layer of mulch several inches deep can help retain soil moisture, deter weeds and better feature the plant visually. Do not fertilize after planting; instead, wait until it has flowered.

Mound soil several inches deep over the crowns of rose plants to protect them from harsh, below freezing temperatures. According to Colorado Gardening, you can then cover the soil with 8 to 10 inches of mulch, or lean pine boughs against the canes for extra protection.

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