How to Replant a Rhododendron Bush

Updated April 17, 2017

Everyone likes a Rhododendron shrub with the stunning clusters of large flowers in their yard. If you received the shrub from a friend and would like to plant it in your yard, rhododendrons handle replanting pretty well. The steps involved in replanting a rhododendron require a little bit of extra care for successful replanting.

Choose the right soil and the location to replant the rhododendron. The shrub prefers acidic soil and a partly shady location. Alkaline soil condition makes iron insoluble and cannot be absorbed by the shrub.Use a soil test kit or send the soil sample to a soil test laboratory to find out the soil type.

Water the rhododendron before moving it. Water will help the shrub with any moisture shortage during replanting. Rhododendron's root system prefers moist conditions.

Dig around the base of the shrub with a 2-foot diameter using a spade. Gently pry out the root ball without damaging the feeder roots. Feeder roots transport the nutrients from the soil. Rhododendron has feeder roots that are shallow and spread wide. It is important to dig wide around the root ball to include the feeder roots.

Cover the root ball in a sack in order to retain the moisture in the roots. Dry roots will kill rhododendrons. Load the shrub in a wheelbarrow and move it to the area where you would like to replant.Dig a hole that is 18 inches deep and 30 inches wide. Rhododendron has shallow root system and does not require a deep hole for planting.

Place the rhododendron in the hole and cover its roots with dirt. Add 2 to 4 inches of mulch for moisture retention. The moisture helps the growth of the feeder roots.

Prune the rhododendron to about 8 to 10 inches from the ground. This helps the shrub to concentrate on developing the root system instead of flowering.Water the shrub. Rhododendron's root system prefers moist soil at all times.


Replant the rhododendrons in the fall in warmer regions for faster recovery and re-establishment.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Sack
  • Water
  • Mulch
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Soil test kit (optional)
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About the Author

Priya Hariharan is a technical writer and a Web coordinator at a state agency in New York. She has been writing user manuals for three years and holds a Bachelor of Science in electronics engineering.