UACES Facebook Transplanting


December 2014

QuestionMy brother recently sold his house and wants to remove a rose bush from the back yard to eventually transplant in his new place.  However, he is moving into a small space for several months before he finds a place of his own again, with a yard.  He has rented a large storage unit and would like to place the rose bush in a pot inside the storage unit, while it's dormant during the winter.   Is this possible to do with rose bushes, and, if so, is it best to keep it in the dark with very little water until he can (presumably) plant it somewhere in the spring?  I should add that this rose bush has very sentimental value.  His wife died last January and she had planted the rose bush years ago and it had become very prolific.   


Answer  I would do two things. One is take some cuttings and start rooting them indoors as a safety net.  Then put the rose in a large container and keep it moist, but not wet.  Wrap the container in burlap or bubble wrap to add extra protection to the roots.  An unheated storage unit can get pretty nippy if temperatures are really low. The key is to make sure the roots don’t freeze.  The tops can be pruned back.  Another option is to put the potted rose bush in a large cardboard box with shipping peanuts all around it.  Don’t seal the box, just leave it open but that would also help protect the roots from freezing.  I actually have some unplanted shrubs in pots behind other plants next to the foundation of my house with leaves piled around them.  I had plants survive outdoors this way last winter as cold as it was. 

November 2012

QuestionI rooted a cutting from a knockout rose this year and planted it in a pot on my patio. It has bloomed all summer, can I safely move it now to a flower bed on the west side of my house, and expect it to live through the winter. I live in Little Rock.

AnswerYes, plant it in the ground, mulch it and water if dry and it should do well. Wait to prune it back in late February. Even though we don’t prune Knock out roses as severely as hybrid tea roses, they do need to be pruned by at least 1/3 – ½ every year before growth kicks back in.

September 2012

QuestionWould I be safe in moving Knock Out Roses now? If I can, should I prune them before the move? I live in east central Arkansas, and I don’t want to lose my bushes.

AnswerEven though it is cooling off, plants are not dormant yet. The dormant season is the best time to move plants—between November and February. My preference with roses is to wait until February when you can prune and move at the same time. Pruning roses heavily in the fall can make the plants more susceptible to winter damage. If you are doing construction or have an immediate need to move your plants, it is doable, but prune as little as possible to make the move feasible and keep the plant healthy. Usually, the smaller the thorny bush, the easier it is to move, thus I prefer to wait until February with roses.

March 2010

QuestionMy husband & I bought a couple of rose bushes to plant this spring. When would be the best time to plant them without fear of frost damage?

AnswerPlant them now. Many roses come in those small plastic sleeves and are called ‘bare root’ plants. The plastic sleeve has some fill in it to keep the roots moist, but there is nothing to sustain active growth. Bare root plants are shipped dormant and meant to be planted dormant. So don’t delay. If you bought a containerized rose bush it has also been outside at the nursery and should be totally hardened off. Get it in the ground, mulch it and water. Tip: For those who have established roses, the roses have begun growing statewide, so if you haven’t pruned yet, do so immediately or it can delay the onset of the first blooms.

January 2010

QuestionWe recently moved to a new home. The new owners of our previous home have graciously allowed us to move some plants from our former flower garden. When and how is the best time to move hydrangeas? We have prepared a bed for these plants at our new location, but we have been reluctant so far to move them during winter. The two varieties of hydrangeas in question are commonly called "Ever Blooming" and "Lace Cap". Additionally, where is the best place to find material on moving a variety of other plants, including roses, butterfly bushes, and various herbs. I have read about moving a few plants in your column.

AnswerWait until the bulk of winter is over before moving hydrangeas. They can suffer winter damage easily and will be better prepared to handle it with a strong root system. Move in March. In general, the dormant season--November through February is considered the best transplant season for most hardy plants, simply because the plants are dormant and there is less stress to them. For less hardy plants, hydrangeas, azaleas, gardenias, etc. which can get damaged in the winter, wait until winter is over before moving, if possible. For some folks, timing is limited due to circumstances--moving, construction, etc. With proper care--mainly watering, you can successfully move most plants year-round. They wilt horribly when moved in the summer but can recover with time and care, and need extra protection in the winter if cold. If timing is your choice, for roses, I suggest moving them after you prune them in February so you deal with less thorns. Butterfly bush (buddleia) is also pruned in late February so moving it then would be easier. Herbaceous herbs can be moved spring or fall with ease.

August 2007

QuestionWe need to move rose bushes from one location in our yard to another. Could we do that this fall? If so, would it be O.K. to cut them back, plant, and then mulch in well? Or should we wait until early spring? Also, I have rooted a gardenia which is growing new leaves in a pot outside. Should we leave that in the pot and bring it in this winter, or could I plant it outside, mulching it down well for the winter

AnswerThe best time to move roses would be February, the same time we prune them. If you must move them this fall, it can be done, but I would avoid pruning if possible. Pruned roses heading into fall and winter would make them more susceptible to winter damage. Mulch them; limit how much is taken off, water as needed, and then prune as normal in February. Better yet, wait to do it all in late February. As to the gardenia, this one is tricky. It is always better to have a plant in the ground establishing its root system. As miserable as it is outside right now, it would be hard to keep a new plant watered. The later we plant a gardenia, the less chance of root establishment. Then we don't know what type of winter we will have. Many well established gardenias took a hit last winter, and newly planted ones won't be as hardy. You have two options. Plant now, water well, and mulch. Monitor the plant this winter, and if temperatures are predicted below 15-20, cover the plant with a cardboard box, or similar protection. The other option is to grow it indoors as a houseplant this winter and plant outdoors next spring.

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