Posted: 30/05/2015 at 09:15
LesleyK: I've moved established roses a couple of times but whether I did it the right way or not I'm not sure. They are doing well so it worked for me.
I had three growing close to a wall a couple of years ago. They were the previous garden owners and had been there around 40 years! The difficulty I had was not knowing how far and in which direction the very large roots had spread - and also how deep they were.
Firstly, I drenched each one with a couple of buckets of water and left them for about an hour. (Partly fear to proceed!) I then started by forking a couple of foot away from them just so that if I hit roots I had some idea of the spread of them. I did it very carefully getting right around each rose very very carefully. It was really hard work and I did it slowly so as not to cut through what might have been the best roots. A lot of the roots had gone right under the wall and I have to say it was a nightmare loosening all the other roots and then having to put my back into pulling out the remainder which were trapped under the wall. The thickest roots I have to say were at least 2 foot under the soil and the oldest centre roots were 2-3" thick in places. I was sweating buckets all the time as it took so long and it was tiring. Lots of bending and scraping away with a small fork and then using the big one to uplift when they came free. Spent a couple of aching hours on one which was a brute! However, the youngest one (20 years old) had very neat roots and came out very easily - I was surprised as it was a big bloomer and didn't have many roots at all. It came up easily and was easy to replant as a result.
It really did take a long time as I was being so careful - but I suspect these roses had been in situ much longer than yours have?
I had prepared sites for all three prior to digging them up - and had a couple of buckets of water handy so that whilst I was repositioning one, the other two were in the buckets of water. I also had bought a packet of mycorrhizal fungi and used that around the roots before replanting. I'm not absolutely sure this was necessary but I'd seen it done on Gardener's World and read about it in books. I put the roses in, gave each a drench with a bucket of water, tramped the soil in around them gently with my feet, a handful of rose feed watered in and that was it. It was also late Spring when I moved them and they were all beginning to bud but I had to take the risk and move them.
There is bound to be a rose expert on here who is likely to give you a better idea how to approach removing yours. I was a real 'novice' and like you, I had a reason to remove them from their original site.
But - they all survived the move really really well and as a result I'm a bit more confident of having to do it again.
That's the extent of my experience I'm afraid. I'm sure there will be others who might have some expert tips.