Skip to Content

The Complete Guide to Transplanting Rose Bushes in 5 Simple Steps

Like many plants, rose bushes can outgrow their environments. Rather than leaving them in less-than-ideal conditions, it’s wise to move them to a better location where they will thrive.


Of course, roses are delicate, and transplanting rose bushes requires a great deal of care. Keep reading to learn how to transplant rose bushes the right way!

Why Should You Transplant a Rose Bush?

Transplanting Rose Bushes

There are a few common reasons for transplanting rose bushes:

Limited Space

It can be difficult to forecast how large your rose bushes are going to grow when you first plant them. If you have found that your bushes are quickly running out of room to grow, there is only so much pruning you can do before you need to consider a more spacious location for them.

Minimal Sunlight

Plants need sunlight to thrive, and rose bushes are no different. If tall trees, buildings, or other structures are beginning to shade your roses, transplanting rose bushes into a more open environment will allow them to receive more sunlight.

Poor Drainage

Excess water can also stifle rose growth. If your rose bushes happen to be planted at a low elevation, or if you’re dealing with soggy soil, you should relocate your roses to a spot with high-quality soil.

When Should You Transplant Rose Bushes?


There are two main timeframes for transplanting rose bushes, depending on where you live. For those in cooler climates, early spring allows you to move your rose bushes while they are still dormant. For those in warmer climates, early spring might be too late — in which case, you should move your rose bushes during the fall.

If you find that your rose bushes are really struggling, however, there is no point in waiting for the perfect time of year to arrive before moving them. While transplanting rose bushes might be more difficult during the growing season, it is still viable with a little extra care and a slightly different approach.

Tips for Transplanting a Rose Bush

Transplanting Roses

If you’re looking to make transplanting rose bushes as seamless as possible, these plant-saving tips will come in handy:

Find Your New Location Before You Start

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to start transplanting your rose bushes without first finding and preparing your new location. You need to make sure that the new soil has all of the necessary nutrients, is equipped with proper drainage, and allows your roses to have access to ample water and sunlight.

Try to Limit Transplant Shock

Transplanting rose bushes is far more nuanced than simply digging up your plant and placing it in a new hole in your garden bed. Transplant shock is a legitimate threat to your roses, especially if you’re handling a non-dormant plant.

The key to successfully transplanting rose bushes is to limit the effects of transplant shock. This starts with choosing the right time to transplant. Late spring and summer are prime growing season, so try to avoid these months if you live in a warm region.

It’s also important that you take your time when handling and relocating your rose bushes, as roses have fragile root systems. While there will inevitably be some level of damage as you dig and unroot, rushing through the job will only put more stress on the plants and cause greater damage.

How to Transplant Rose Bushes in 5 Steps

Transplanting rose bushes

Ready to relocate your rose bushes? To ensure that transplant them properly, follow these five simple steps!

1. Prepare the New Area

While you may have already settled on a new location, you will need to properly prepare the new area before transplanting rose bushes.

First, confirm that your rose bush won’t be shaded by any surrounding trees or structures. Next, you will need to prepare the soil itself. To support the roses, your new garden bed will require fertile soil with organic matter. You can achieve this by working compost into the bed.

2. Prepare the Rose Bush

There are two different approaches to preparation, depending on whether you are transplanting rose bushes that are dormant or non-dormant.

With a dormant rose bush, you will first need to make sure that the last frost has passed. You will then need to prune your taller canes back to roughly 10–12 inches long and remove any remaining foliage.

With a non-dormant rose bush, you will need to make sure that you water it daily during the week of the move. This will help prevent the shock that is often caused when transplanting a non-dormant bush. You will then need to prune any dead canes and foliage before ultimately reducing cane height to a manageable length.

3. Dig a Hole in the Garden Bed

In your new garden bed, start digging a hole that is two to three times the size of the root ball. If you’re unsure of how large the root ball is, you can match the new planting hole to the overall reach of the bush canes.

Next, pour a generous amount of compost onto the new soil. Make sure you save some compost for the soil that will be filled in around the bush once it is transplanted.

4. Remove the Rose Bush

First, take your shovel and dig straight down — creating a perimeter between six and nine inches from the drip line of the rose bush. Depending on the age and size of your plant, you may need to dig down 12–16 inches or as deep as 24 inches to clear the root ball.

While digging your perimeter, face your shovel away from the rose bush. This will help prevent excessive damage to the root system.

Next, you will need to dig underneath the rose bush to unearth it. Do this carefully so that you don’t accidentally slice large sections of the root system. Having an extra hand or two will make this step much easier.

You may find that you need to cut a few stray roots in order to remove the rose bush from its current location. Just make sure you keep trimming to a minimum.

5. Transplant the Rose Bush

Now that you’re ready to place the rose bush in the new garden bed, it’s critical that you match the height of the old location. Add or remove soil from the base of the hole as needed. The rose canes should clear the surface, while the entire root system should be obscured once you fill in the hole with soil.

After massaging some of the soil through and around the root ball, pour plenty of water around the bush. Because this will also cause the soil to settle, you may need to top off the area with additional soil to bring it up to grade. Finally, apply a root-promoting fertilizer and some organic mulch, and keep your rose bush well-hydrated in the days ahead.

Congratulation on successfully transplanting rose bushes! Sit back and enjoy your gorgeous roses as they bloom.

Final Word on Transplanting Rose Bushes

Whether your plants are struggling to survive or you anticipate them needing more space in the near future, transplanting rose bushes to a better location will allow them to thrive again.

Excited for more rose content? Then keep reading all about these beautiful flowers, how to take care of them, and more on our roses page!