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Best, safest time to transplant roses

Wally asks, when is the recommended time to transplant roses?

We are redoing our garden and need to transplant several of our favorite rose bushes before the major construction begins.

How far back can I safely prune the bushes? Any other planting tips would be appreciated.

The best and safest time to transplant is during their dormant/resting period after their leaves have fallen. Dormancy may begin at the end of December and can continue through February as long as you do not see the roses vigorously pushing out new growth and coming out of dormancy.

If the rose leaves have not fallen by January (due to our late warm weather conditions), it is perfectly acceptable to help things along by removing all the remaining leaves and forcing dormancy.

Prune the bushes back by one-half, keeping in mind the importance of pruning to an outside bud thus forming an open vase shape. If you decide to prune back the roses a little more drastically, it shouldn't be a problem.

Also remove any dead canes and those pesky canes crossing over each other. Obviously, transplanting a smaller pruned rose bush will help prevent being stuck by the sharp thorns.

Before digging up the individual pruned roses, thoroughly prepare the new planting site. Carefully dig up the roses, wash the soil off of the root ball with a steady spray of water and inspect the exposed roots for any damaged or unhealthy appearing areas.

This is a perfect time to do some minor root pruning by shortening them (say, by an inch, more or less) and removing those that appear damaged or diseased. Root pruning will stimulate new root growth and make the transplanting process easier not having to deal with long unwieldy roots tucked into a planting hole.

Lastly, water the transplants thoroughly once they are positioned in their new planting holes, add more soil as needed and water them again, thus eliminating any air holes surrounding the roots.


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