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Planting Bare Root Roses

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

Nothing beats bringing an arm load of roses for your own garden to the lady in your life or a friend who needs encouragement. Roses from the florist are imposters compared to homegrown flowers. When you grow roses yourself you are living and evolving with buds that open to massive flowers and scents ranging from tea to the headiest, most exotic perfume and spices. So, how do you become a rosarian? First, you have to learn to plant these beauties! Its not hard with a few simple tips.

Bare rooted roses are just that, roses that are in dormancy with no soil on the roots. I recommend these as your starting place instead of the potted roses you find in the big box stores with a few blooms on them. Real gardeners swear by bear rooted stock. In warm climates these roses should be planted at the end of winter and in cold climates at the very beginning of spring. In the video below I've detailed for you all you need to start an amazing rose garden.

One- Preparing the Site

Choose an area that is well-drained and gets at least 6 hours of sun, preferably more. Then till the soil with sand, limestone, and lots of cow manure. Check out my blog on preparing your bed at

Two- Choose Roses and Order

Order and select your roses from a reputable grower. Think about how much time you have to tend them, deadhead and control pests. Select roses that will suit your climate and lifestyle best. For example, if you are a very busy person with no time, tea roses are not your thing. Rogusa or shrub roses though might be just the thing. Do you want long stems, climbers, English roses, beautiful buds, white, red or pink? My favorite grower for 20 plus years has been Jackson and Perkins.

Three- Prep the Plants

When your plants arrive you should plant them within a day or two. Soak the roots, covering them completely in water for at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours. If you can't plant them right away dig a trench and place the roots in the trench at a 45 degree angle and cover them with soil until you can plant them.

Four- Planting

Dig a hole at least twice as deep and twice as wide as you need. Fill the bottom with gravel and then then backfill the soil into the hole, creating a mount for the roots to sit upon. Then backfill with a mixture of compost and soil. Make sure the graft union is 1" above the soil in warm climates and 1" below the surface in very cold climates. You can also mix in a capful of Osmocote into the soil as you plant. Tamp down the soil very well and then water in the rose well.

Five- Pruning

You can prune an inch or two off of your rose canes to encourage root growth before the plant begins to develop leaves and more canes. Some gardeners even recommend pruning canes back by 1/3rd.

In a few months you will begin to have a big show of roses! Rose growing may be a bit harder than some other plants but it is oh so rewarding.

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