A Few Useful Tips For Transplanting Roses
If you are transplanting roses for the first time it may be somewhat of a traumatic experience. With the first plunge of the spade into the earth, you're no doubt wondering if you've already killed the plant. If you plan ahead and go about things correctly, you shouldn't have to worry about doing damage to a rose you've grown very fond of, but for wish to move.
A favorite rose plant may stay in the same place for years, especially if it is a climbing rose. When we lay out a rose garden, the last thing that comes to mind is that we may eventually find ourselves transplanting roses, from one spot to another, from one rose bed to another, or if we're moving, from our old house to the new one. But one day the time will come when a rose needs to be moved. Hopefully, that day will come when the rose is in its dormant period. That is the best time for transplanting roses, but this is not an iron-clad rule.
Don't Be Afraid - Sometimes when you read instructions on transplanting roses, they sound like you must do thus and so, or very bad things will happen. Dormancy is the best time for transplanting roses, but is not the only time. Avoid mid-winter or the hottest day of the year if you can, but if you do a little planning, you can do your transplanting at almost any time. If it is indeed mid-winter or the hottest day of the year, there is of course a greater risk that all might not go well. On the other hand, if you're transplanting at the optimum time and don't do the things you should be doing, all might still not go well.
Planning Ahead For The Big Move - Here are a few tips designed to help you with transplanting roses, no matter what time of year or under what conditions you are working. The first tip, which is a very general one, is to Plan Ahead. Make certain you know what you are going to do before you start doing it. Sometimes we do things backwards. We dig up the rose to be planted, then figure out where we think we want it, then dig a new hole and replant it. The rose is a tough plant. Give it enough water, and it will put up with a certain amount of abuse, like lying on the lawn waiting for you to dig the new hole.
Planting Tips - If you’re planning on moving a large, well established rose, you want either a large root ball, a healthy root system, or both. Planning ahead, water the plant well, wait a day or two, water it again well, and then dig around the base to root prune it. Do this several weeks, or even a month before you plan to transplant it. You'll then have a rose bush that has developed lots of new roots, and is in good shape for the move.
Next, dig the hole where you intend to place the transplanted rose bush. If you haven't had time to root prune the bush, dig it up with as large a root ball as you can manage, and make certain the hole you've dug has more than enough room for the root ball. Move the rose to its new home as quickly as possible, especially if it's a hot day (cool cloudy days are best for transplanting of course). If the root ball is loose, or if you're planting bare root, spread the roots, and make a little mound in the bottom of the hole to avoid creating an air pocket. Then put dirt back into the hole and water very well. It's probably a good idea to place the rose in the new hole so that is a little higher than it was in its previous spot, 2 or 3 inches higher perhaps. The reason for this is the plant will probably settle some over the next few weeks. The next day, water the plant very, very well again. You can over water a rose, but it’s hard to do. Of course the assumption here is that you've placed the rose in soil that drains well, so giving it a bucket or two of water isn't going to hurt anything.
Heavy Pruning Not Needed - Since dormancy is the best time to transplant roses, one would naturally assume that if you transplant them during the summer, they should be pruned back severely so they resemble a dormant plant. This is the wrong approach. You want to leave as much foliage on the plant as you can manage. You may want to give the rose a light pruning to remove dead or weak branches, or cross-branches, but beyond that, leave the plant alone. It needs its leaves to collect energy to feed the roots. If you leave on more leaves than the plant needs, the excess leaves will die back. That's OK; the plant is just using what it needs and nothing more.
Skip The Fertilizer - A second mistake that is often made is to give the replanted rose plenty of fertilizer to get it off to a good start. The truth is, little or no fertilizer is needed, and little or no fertilizer is actually better for the plant. You can start fertilizing it regularly again with the start of the new growing season. Finally, if you're transplanting a number of roses, and simply rearranging your rose garden, don't be afraid to use a hole that you've removed another rose from. A rose doesn't mind moving into a previously owned hole one bit. If the former rose did well in that spot, the new one should also do well.
Just remember when transplanting roses, they are tough customers, as long as you give them plenty of water and plan ahead, so they are not left lying around.