The best transplanting time depends on where you live. From the warmer parts of zone 5 on south, the shrubs will do best if moved in early fall, though early spring is also a possibility. In colder climates, the preference is reversed: it’s best to move the roses in spring, as soon as the ground can be worked, but you can also move them in the fall if you do it at least six weeks before hard frost is expected.
Assuming you move them to an area that has good soil, good sun, and good air circulation, relocation should be no problem. But digging up and moving plants does always create some stress, so for best results:
- If possible, choose an overcast day for the transplanting operation.
- Water the roses thoroughly two days before you plan to move them.
- Be sure to prepare the new planting holes before you dig up the roses; the less time the roots spend enjoying the light of day, the better. Err on the side of generosity when deciding how big to make the new holes; filling in one that turned out to be too big is a lot easier (on the rose, anyway) than last-minute expansion of a hole that turned out to be too small. It’s also wise to have dampened burlap handy to cover the roots if they are going to be exposed for longer than a few minutes.
- If you’re transplanting in spring, take the opportunity to remove weak growth and prune for shape. But if you are transplanting in the fall, wait until the following spring before pruning anything unless it has been injured.
Roses and Epsom salts
While Epsom salts belong on every gardener’s shelf, its primary use is in the gardener’s bath after a hard day of bending and digging.
There are many gardeners who swear by the salts for their roses or spinach. And perhaps it does help sometimes because Epsom salts contains magnesium and sulfur, two essential micronutrients. Magnesium is found in chlorophyll, which helps plants turn sunshine into food, and sulfur is used to make several proteins. If your soil were deficient in one of these elements, Epsom salts might do some good, but most specialists in plant nutrition say that average garden soil contains enough sulfur and magnesium in forms that are readily available to the plants to keep everyone happy and healthy.