50 Year Old Climbing Rose
We have a very old climbing rose bush at the back of our yard. Unfortunately, it is growing at the base of a large tree. We have watched it bloom for over 20 years and now it's beginning to die out and we would really like to move and save it if we could. Please advise us on what to do. We know of at least 50 years that these roses have been growing there. Our neighbor, who is no longer living, planted them.
If you want to move the rosebush, it is best to make the move in early Spring before it has started to grow much. Dig a circle around the rosebush at least 10 to 12 inches out beyond the base of the bush. Prune back the canes to a manageable length and tie them up together with some strong twine. Water the rosebush well by way of filling the circular ditch you just dug around the entire bush. There will be some major difficulty with the rosebush being close to the tree. Do the best you can to dig the circular ditch around it, at least 18 to 20 inches deep. Once you have watered the bush well and left the water to soak away for about an hour, or even overnight. Start to dig in downward and sideways to get in under the roots and lift with the shovel blade, all around the bush. Keep doing this working your way around the bush, as many times as it takes to loosen the rosebush up so that you can lift it out of the current planting hole. Dig a new planting hole at the location of choice where the bush will be moved to, making sure it gets lots of sunshine in that new area. Water down the new hole well. It will likely take a couple of people to lift the rosebush out of its old location and onto a small wagon or into a wheel barrel to move it to the new location. You will lose some of the roots, it is just not possible to get all of them. You will likely need to check out the root zone bay tipping the rose to one side once you have it up and out of its current location. All intertwining tree roots should be removed as best as you can. It is likely these tree roots wrapping around the rosebushes roots that is causing it to struggle now. Once you are done with the root zone clean up, move her to the new planting hole and set her in place making sure the hole is deep enough to be able to fill the new soils in without her sitting above the grade line. Being an inch or two below the grade line around the planting hole is a very good idea. Fill in with a good bagged garden soil that has some compost in its mix. Tamp lightly and water her in. I recommend giving her some water that has both a good root stimulator and some Super Thrive mixed into it. This will help relieve the transplanting shock and stress for the rosebush as well as get those roots to growing and settling the bush in. You will likely not have any blooms in the first year after the transplanting as many of the old climbers bloom on what is called the "old wood" or the last years growth. Having to prune it back some for the transplant move may forfeit most if not all blooms. But the rosebush should come back with wonderful splendor the following year. Just keep her well watered and fed with a good organic based rose food. Let me know if you have further questions.
Stan The Rose Man
Gardening Know How