Moving an established rose bush

Rosa 'Julia Child':
Rosa 'Julia Child'

Today I moved a Tea rose called 'Souvenir de Pierre Notting'.   "Tea", not "Hybrid Tea":  two different types. SdPN will get large, 8'x8' or more.  It was in a spot that was rapidly becoming too small for it, so I had to move it before it got too big to move.  I should have done it back in January, but I was busy pruning.  In February, it had several new basal stems, so I decided to wait until they hardened up a bit before moving the plant.  Today was the day. 

The rose in its new spot:
Moving a rose bush

The basic tricks for moving a rose bush are: 

1. Move the plant during a period of cool, overcast weather.  This vastly reduces stress for the plant.  If you need to reduce stress, provide some kind of temporary shade for the plant.  This will help it recover.  A trash barrel between the rose and the sun will do, or a scrap of shade cloth suspended between some stakes. 

2. Keep the plant well-watered until it recovers.  This recovery period depends on the weather and how much root ball you've destroyed during the move.  Don't drown the rose by overwatering, but the soil should remain moist at all times. 

3. Get as much root ball as you can.  The more root ball you get, the shorter the recovery period.  If you somehow manage to get the entire root ball during a stretch of mild weather, the rose will not even notice its been moved.   If you lose some of the root system, remove a proportionate amount of top growth.  For example, if you lose half the stuff below ground, remove half of the stuff above ground. 

Before you moved it, the plant had a balance of root system to stems and foliage.  Digging it up and destroying some of the root system upsets that balance.  Help the plant recover by reducing the amount of stem and foliage it must support with its damaged root system.   If the rose looks stressed and foliage starts to die, cutting it back a little more might be a good move. 

In 'Souvenir de Pierre Notting's case, it had quite a few flowers on it.  I removed them all, and though I got nearly all the root system, the plant is still young, and the root system isn't that big.  In addition, we're expecting two days of very hot weather next week, and Tea roses don't move well.  Hybrid teas are easier!  Based on all those factors, I reduced the top growth by about 50%. 

 4. Don't fertilize for a while.  Do you run a marathon the day after brain surgery?  Let the plant rest and recover without pushing it to grow and bloom.   

I moved a 'Barbra Streisand' rose back in February, during some cool, damp weather.  It was doing very well the first week, even though I lost about 50% of the root system.  Then the weather warmed up a lot.  The foliage started to wilt and a couple of cane tips started to die back.  I kept it well watered, and waited.  The weather cooled down again for several weeks, and the rose looked okay.  Not great, but okay.   

Here's the 'Barbra Streisand' I didn't move.  Lots of foliage.  It has just completed a big spring flush and is now sprouting two big new basal canes.  Go Babs!

Moving a rose bush

The new basal canes are a deep reddish color:
New basal canes

Now, here's the 'Barbra Streisand' I had to move.  It was bigger than the one I didn't move.  I lost quite a bit of the root system so I cut it back fairly hard, but not to stubs.  Roses store energy in their canes.  When you are cutting off canes, you are cutting off stored energy.  Too much is as bad as too little.  Strive to strike a balance. 

Moving a rose bush

I ended up cutting off a little more when we hit that stretch of hot weather, but now you can see that the rose is recovering nicely:  there's quite a bit of new red growth sprouting all over the plant.   This moved plant probably won't bloom much this year, but I think it will nearly catch up to the other plant next year, since it's already showing so much new growth.  I'll continue to watch it during heat waves and shade and water it as necessary to help it get though the hot summer. 

Explaining something like this often forces the posting of pictures that are shall we say not beauty shots.  So I'll close with some more decorative pictures to make up for the "explanation" shots.  :)   I realized I don't even have a single picture of flowers from 'Souvenir de Pierre Notting'.  Oh dear!  Now I have to make sure it recovers from its move!

Rosa 'Molineux' with 'Platts Black' Phormium and Santolina chamaecyparissus
Rosa 'Molineux' with 'Platts Black' Phormium and Santolina chaemecyparriss

Austin rose 'William Shakespeare 2000':
William Shakespeare 2000

Clematis 'Viola':
Clematis 'Viola'


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