|Is it advisable to transplant a 50 year old rose bush that lives in my grandmother's center city Philadelphia backyard garden to our beachhouse in Atlantic City at this time of year (11/ 98)? (I sort of have to, and am looking for a vote of confidence.)
|Well, if you have to, you have to. Fall is actually not a bad time to transplant shrubs, including roses, because the plants are going dormant. Water it well the day before you dig it. Cut it back hard and/or tie back the remaining canes to enable you to handle it and to compensate for the root loss. Remember that roots stretch wide and deep. Dig as large a root ball as you can manage -- it's a good idea to get help because a root ball is extremely heavy. Wrap the roots in damp newspapers and plastic to keep them from drying out during the trip. Keep the plant out of hot sun and protect it from wind; transport and replant immediately.
Dig a large, extra wide hole sized generously to accommodate the roots. If the soil is very sandy, mix in a good amount of organic matter such as compost and/or well rotted manure. Plant at the same depth as it grew originally. Water the plant in well, mulch with several inches of organic mulch, and as an extra step, spray with an antidessicant according to the label instructions. If it is in a windy spot, consider erecting a temporary wind break until it becomes established. Keep an eye on the soil moisture so that it doesn't dry out this winter, then next spring, summer and fall be sure the plant receives an inch of water a week from either you or the sky.
If all this seems too huge a task, you might consider trying to get permission to take some suckers and/or cuttings from the plant next spring and summer. These smaller bits will create a new but identical plant (like a clone). If you think that would be better, the Q&A has lots of how-to rose propagation information.
Good luck with your rose!