Moving a Rose Bush


We live in the Queen St.E. and Kingston Road area and have a rose bush that needs moving. A new place has already been established. When is the best time to do this? This coming Fall or do we wait until Spring? Do we prune before or after move? Thank you for any information you can give us.


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your inquiry. I’m attaching our  response to a similar question that we received. I hope that you will find it useful.

As roses are sensitive to shock, moving them while dormant (in late winter or early spring) is generally recommended.

However, roses can be moved during the growing season if they have the right amount of water.  You want to water deeply before transplanting, so all the cells of the rose are as full of water as possible.  This lessens the demands on the roots.  Again, dig far enough away from the root ball that you do not damage the roots and are able to take as much of the root as possible.  If the rose is wilting when transplanted it may not survive.  You can elect not to cut the rose back letting it decide how much of its top it can support.  It will tell you by wilting at the tips, which is a sign to increase watering.  The material that does not recover within a few days of liberal watering needs to be removed at that time.  Prune any dried or dead material from the plant.  Or you can elect to cut the taller canes down to a manageable height before digging it up.  Some prefer to match the height of the rose canes to the size of the root ball, which is acceptable also.  Again, wait until there is new growth to resume regular fertilizing.   Always remember that fertilizers need water in order to work; fertilizers are essentially salts and can burn your rose if enough water isn’t applied.   It is good practice to water the rose both before and after applying any fertilizer.

Before you move a rose bush, there are some important things to know.  Roses thrive in areas with good, fertile soil enriched with organic matter.  They also require plenty of sun and water.  With this in mind, be sure to transplant roses to similar locations and conditions.

While it would be best for the roses if you to transplant them to their permanent location, you can try to overwinter them in pots buried in the soil at your new location.  In this instance you would dig a hole and plant the rose within the pot in a sheltered location.  This would create further shock to your plants and should be avoided if at all possible.

Always prepare the bed or planting hole in advance, working in plenty of compost.  The hole should be at least 15 inches deep and wide enough to accommodate the rootball and root system (approximately 12 inches or so).  Build up a small mound of soil in the center of the hole for your rose bush to sit on.  Rose bushes should also be watered thoroughly for about two days prior to transplanting.  For best results, choose an overcast day for transplanting rose bushes.

In addition to knowing when transplanting rose bushes is best and preparation beforehand, it’s important to know how to transplant a rose bush.  Once the hole has been properly prepared and the rose significantly watered, you’re ready to move it.  Dig about 12 inches around the bush and approximately 15 inches deep.  Carefully lift out the rootball, taking as much soil with it as possible. Place the bush in the hole on the mound, spreading out the roots.  The rose bush should be sitting slightly above ground level.  Fill in around the rose bush with half the excavated soil.  Then water it thoroughly, allowing it to fill up and drain before backfilling with the remaining soil.  Press down firmly to eliminate any air pockets.  After planting, prune the rose back as much as possible using angled cuts and removing any spindly, unsightly, or weakened branches.  Continue to keep the rose bush watered.

I’m attaching a link to an informative site on transplanting roses. Best of luck!