How to Transplant a Climbing Rose

October 22, 2008 | By | Comments (13)

Q: Help!  The most beautiful rose I have ever seen is across the street and I don’t know  it’s name.  It is  a climbing rose and has been neglected for the last fifteen years, yet continues to bloom with more petals per rose than I have ever seen.

Here is my question.  How do I move it from my neighbors yard to mine?  I have never transplanted anything in my life but this plant has been offered and I need to act right away.  Please try to help me if you can.

Judy Wynn
A looooooooog time subscriber.

A: Oh, you need to move it right away, huh? You sure this is legit? Here at the Grumpy Gardener, the seat of horticultural integrity and everything this is right and pure, we don’t cotton to rose rustlers, missy.

However, since you are a loooongtime subscriber, we will give you the benefit of the doubt. Because the rose is blooming now, this means it is a repeat bloomer. This is good, because if you have to prune it to move it, you’ll still get flowers next year. Pruning a spring-blooming climber in fall is a no-no, unless Morticia Addams is your decorator.

OK, follow these steps.

1. Use twine or cord to tie together the long rose canes as best you can. I’m betting the rose is thorny, so use gloves. Wrap the cord around the outside of the canes from one end to the other, and then pull tightly and make a knot. Think of it like hog-tying a prisoner. This gets the canes up out of the way and makes it easier to dig and move the rose. If you have to shorten some of the canes to move the plant, OK.

2. Water around the base of the plant so that the soil won’t fall away from the roots when you move the rose.

3. Dig as big as root ball as you can. This is critical. I would think it would need to be at least 18 inches wide and 10 inches deep. Be careful not to break the ball when you lift it from the ground. Place it on a tarp or sheet of plastic that you can slide across the ground or lift into a wheelbarrow to move.

4. As soon as you replant the rose, water it thoroughly. Keep the soil ball moist until the plant goes dormant this fall.

Grumpy (a loooongtime writer)

P.S. Bonus Info Time for Faithful Grumpians Like You!! Here are some of my favorite mail-order sources for tough, old-fashioned roses, some of which are climbers. All of these nurseries sell very good plants and are run by trustworthy people.

Antique Rose Emporium (
Ashdown Roses (
Heirloom Roses (
Petals From the Past (

And if you’re a Doubting Hortist who doesn’t believe until he sees, check out the customer ratings for these nurseries on Garden Watchdog at


  1. Kimberly Patton

    I just transplanted an “ancient soldier” (probably “Blaze”) from a nearby vacant lot owned by my neighbor.Having been a horticulturist for 40 years, ..a few tips:1) cutback canes and be prepared to lose any new shoots from base.You will be tearing some new roots and the shoots are from these new roots.The cutting canes 1/2 way back eases some if the pressure of the plant to try to recover and support so much growth.2) When filling hole,fill halfway and allow hose to slightly dribble water into the hole.Take a dowel or stick and poke about 8-10 ” all around inner sides of hole around..5 or 6 times.You may see bubbles come up in water.I gently jiggle the main stem to seat a bit better.These bubbles are air pockets that you do not want! If your new roots grow and hit one under the soil they will dry out or start root fungus.A new canes growth may be lost.Do the stick trick with the second 1/2 of soil fill.Roses do not like wet feet! And they do like cool shaded roots with 2-3 ” of mulch to keep hot summer sun from baking them.Use a diluted manure fertilizer once a month after you get some solid growth progress.But don’t let your transplant dry out either.Roses,like all flowering plants need 6-8 hours of Sun for optimum bloom, here in Tx,I plant for some light shade in the hottest part of the day in Summer.

    April 5, 2016 at 7:16 pm
  2. Steve Bender


    Transplant them when they are dormant in fall.

    September 26, 2014 at 10:42 am
  3. Ann

    when do you transplant repeat climbing roses in southern Arkansas?

    September 25, 2014 at 7:00 pm
  4. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    G’day, Val! It’s winter here, which probably means it’s summer where you are. In that case, it’s too hot to safely transplant the rose. Wait until fall when it’s cooler. Of course, if you’re just planting a rose from a pot, that’s OK. Dig nice,wide hole, add lots of organic matter (banana peels are OK, but no chemical fertilizer in the hole), and water well. Plant so that the top of the root ball is even with the soil surface and spread a few inches of mulch over the top. As for the tree dahlia, yes, you can grow it in a big pot.

    January 16, 2012 at 8:49 am
  5. val charles

    Me again – I was also given a tree dahlia which I understand will grow to a great height!!!I have not room for great heights so do you think it would be OK if grow in really big pot??? sorry, you may get sick of me and my ignorance!!!!

    January 15, 2012 at 10:06 pm
  6. val charles

    Thanks for your advice re replanting climbing roses – I live in Queenstown Tasmania and being a total novice gardener am wondering if OK to move now and should I put some sort of fertilizer in the new hole prior to planting??? a tip I had was to put banana skins (I liquify) and the other chaps seem to like it – but its what I put into the hole that bothers me as not sure just how good the soil is??? many thanks

    January 15, 2012 at 9:55 pm
  7. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    If it does this every year, I’d move it. If it hasn’t done it until this year, maybe it was a one-time event. Most of these maples are rather shallow rooted and susceptible to leaf scorch during hot, dry weather. The answer is to water them during droughts and also give them some light afternoon shade.

    October 11, 2011 at 11:06 am
  8. Mary

    I live in southwest Ohio and have a Korean maple planted in a partial sun north exposure bed. It looks burned and I wonder if I should relocate it. It has been in this spot for about three years. Please help.

    October 8, 2011 at 12:30 pm
  9. Climbing Plants

    Thank you for all the tips- I will have to take a leaf out of your book- if you’ll excuse the pun!

    March 1, 2011 at 7:40 am
  10. Grumpy Gardener aka His Excellency

    Blueberries are shrubs, not vines, and if you have to trim them regularly to produce a certain shape, you’ll probably get very little fruit. Also, they don’t like competition from other shrubs. I also question why you’d want blueberries growing on top of an arbor, because they produce fruit at the top and that would make harvesting difficult.

    August 18, 2009 at 7:49 am
  11. joan

    my daughter wants to plant blue berries on and up an arbor it has some kind of bush now growing on it. can blue berries be force to grow up and over. thank you

    August 16, 2009 at 6:04 pm
  12. Grumpy Gardener

    I would transplant it in the fall after the plant has gone dormant. October would be a good time. I don’t know how big your rose is, but cutting it back by two-thirds seems extreme. You’ll be removing most of the flowers for next year. I would cut it back by no more than a third.

    June 11, 2009 at 7:59 am
  13. M Frith

    About nine years ago, I rescued some very old cimbing roses that grew next to our neighbor’s house that burned to the ground. Amazingly, I got them in the gournd at hour house as fast as I could and they survived. However, now I would like to move them back since the new house has finally been re-built.
    My main question is when is the best time of year to do this? We live in Long Island. I know how to dig a big hole etc. and to cut it back to about one third the size, but the big question for me is when? September or April?
    Thank you.

    June 10, 2009 at 8:52 pm

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