How to transplant a rose, 9-24-15

.Photo courtesy the Butte Rose Society

Here we are in the first few days of fall, and I feel like I’ve already fallen behind.

My to-do list includes planting leafy vegetables and reorganizing the shed.

I know what is stored within the first three feet of the entrance to the dark, dank storage necessity. Yet, beyond my arm’s reach the contents are a bit murky. I’m fairly certain those boxes and plastic tubs contain remnants from childhood, travel photos and important cords to electronic equipment. There also may be some winter clothes that will be have turned retro by the time they are unpacked.

Until recently, I was worried the shed could flood.

However, the latest news is that El Niño will only provide subtropical jet action to the Southern part of the state, leaving Northern California in a continued state of dryness.

I’m bummed my trees won’t receive a healthful El Niño dousing, but at least I can continue to be in the dark about the contents of the shed.


I called Gwen Quail, Butte Rose Society president for some expert advice on transplanting roses.

Gwen said the easiest time to make the move is in winter. This makes sense because the plants go dormant and lose their leaves.

Winter is also the time when bare-root plants are available for sale. These are lifeless-looking plants with the root ball contained in a plastic bag.

To transplant roses from the ground, Gwen suggested cutting them down to 18 inches to 3 feet tall.

While you’re trimming, cut back canes that look ratty.

Give the soil around the rose a very good soak, Gwen continued. The soil should be damp, like a wrung-out sponge, but not sopping wet.

Also, prepare the hole that will be the new home for the rose.

Gwen said to make sure you “scour the edges” of the hole, so the roots have the ability to penetrate.

She suggests mixing the native soil with nice, loose potting soil and organic matter in a wheelbarrow.

For moving the rose, Gwen said she would grab a big garden fork, rather than a shovel. Get underneath the root ball and jiggle a little, to loosen the soil.

You’re trying to get under the rose about 18 inches, to keep as much of the roots intact as possible.

Gwen said some of the roots will inevitably be damaged. However, you’ve trimmed back the canopy so there is not as much plant for the roots to support.

When transplanting into the new hole, make sure the crown of the rose, where the canes converge, is not under the soil. If you bury the crown and the rose was grafted, you will lose the advantages of that grafting, she said.

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