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Transplanting roses

Published on July 1st 2019
A plant in a garden
Roses can end up in the wrong place for several reasons. It could be that trees are casting too much shade, nearby shrubs taking over, or taller roses have been planted too close to the front of a bed.
The best time to transplant roses is in June because the roses are dormant and there is less stress on the roots. However, if you follow this step-by-step advice it is possible to transplant roses during cooler weather at other times of the year, if you transplant immediately and keep the soil moist while the rose is settling in.
  • Prepare the new position first.
  • The night before transplanting, water the rose well.
  • Cut the rose back by about half to reduce transpiration and make the handling easier. Using a spade, dig down around the rose in a circle about 20 cm from the stem. Dig deeply so that the roots are cut.
  • Lever the rose out of the soil with the spade. The best way to do this is to use two spades, with the help of another person. If the rose doesn’t come out easily, dig around the rose again until all the roots have been cut. Pulling out the rose with some roots still anchored might cause the root neck to split.
  • Once the rose is out, trim damaged roots and replant it in its new position, making sure that the bud union is just below the ground. Lightly firm down the soil and make a dam around the rose bush so that water sinks down to the roots and doesn’t run off. The dam can be filled in later.
A pile of dirt
  • In June, if it is not possible to transplant the rose immediately, keep it in a shady place under damp sacking or put the roses in a trench and water well.
  • Once the soil is properly drenched after transplanting in June do not over water for the first month or so and only step up watering to a daily routine by end August. Carry out a proper pruning in mid-July.
  • At other times of the year, especially during warmer months, water regularly and wet the foliage with a sprinkler or hose. For the first week (or two) after transplanting protect the rose from the hot sun with shade cloth or make a straw/grass tepee that will shade the rose.
What about replacing old roses with new roses in the same bed?
It is true that you can’t plant new roses in soil where other roses have been growing for longer than five years. The rose roots release a chemical that affects the growth of new roses. One needs to sterilise the soil with Herbifume and dig in lots of fresh compost and peanut shells. Another option is to plant the rose in fresh soil in a cardboard box in an established rose bed. By the time the cardboard rots away, the effect of the old roses will have gone.
A pile of hay in a garden

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