How to transplant rhododendron bushes

Updated February 21, 2017

Rhododendrons are medium to large leafy bushes that also produce flowers. Some more commonly known types of rhododendron plants include azaleas and gardenias. Although transplanting a rhododendron bush can be cumbersome, it does not typically cause any damage to the plant. The bushes should be transplanted if they outgrow their existing location, or if the soil in the area becomes soggy. Transplanting should be done in the late fall in warm climates, and the early spring in cold climates.

Prune the top stems on the rhododendron bush to 6 to 8 inches above the base of the plant using pruning shears.

Insert a shovel all the way into the ground at least 2 feet away from the base of the rhododendron bush. Lean back on the shovel handle to loosen the soil.

Remove the shovel from the ground and reinsert it directly beside the first location. Use the same method to loosen the soil. Continue loosening the soil all the way around the rhododendron plant.

Grasp the base of the rhododendron bush and gently lift it up out of the ground. Brush off excess dirt from around the root system.

Choose a new planting location for the rhododendron that receives full sunlight and has well drained soil. Dig a hole that is 50 per cent larger than the roots on the rhododendron bush. Add 1 to 2 inches of compost to the bottom of the hole and water the hole to dampen and settle the compost.

Insert the rhododendron bush roots into the hole and fill in the hole with dirt, making sure there are no air pockets in the hole.

Water the ground under the newly planted rhododendron immediately until the entire area is moist.

Spread a 3-inch-thick layer of mulch around the base of the rhododendron bush to help preserve moisture in the soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Mulch
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About the Author

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.