The Q&A Archives: transplanting roses

Question: My Mother-in-law died and we would like to take some of her favorite rose bushes. The yoarud has not been watered for a few months and though the plants look dry they do not look dead. Is it possible to move the bushes at this time? What would be the best way to do this? Thank you for your help.

Answer: I'm sorry for your loss.
Mid-summer is not the best time to dig and move rose bushes, but under the circumstances, it might be the kindest thing to do. If you dig them up and take them with you, they will obviously get better care than they've gotten in the past few months. Start by soaking the soil the day before the planned move. Then dig the rose bushes, expecting the roots to be in the top 12" of soil, extending out a few feet beyond the branches. It's okay to sever some of the outer roots, but you'll want to try and keep the majority of the rootmass intact. Begin digging straight down about 12" away from the main stem or crown of the rose bush. Dig all the way around, pushing the shovel as deep as possible. When you've dug a complete circle straight down (this will sever some of the outside roots), then begin angling the shovel tip in towards the rose bush. Just keep digging until you've unearthed the rose bush. Set it on a tarp, wrap the roots in damp newspapers, and wrap it up to keep the roots from drying out. Or, set the plant in a cardboard box and cover the roots with dampened newspapers. The important thing is to keep the roots hydrated and get the plants into the ground as quickly as possible.

Best wishes with the move!

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