What time of year is ideal for planting bare root roses?
Even though the weather is still mild, early spring is the ideal time of year to plant bare root roses. Since bare root roses are more susceptible to summer heat, planting them in the spring gives the roots time to grow and accumulate water, preventing the rose from drying out in hotter temperatures.
Buying bare root roses checklist
- When you purchase bare root roses, they should be dormant and have no foliage. If the rose’s leaves have begun to open, do not purchase it. If you have already placed an order online or through a catalog, request a refund (any reputable garden supplier should refund you under these conditions). The roots won’t be able to form and suck up water quickly enough for the rose to survive, and it will die from either dehydration or running out of its stored energy if the leaves have already started to grow before the rose is planted.
- A rose with at least three sturdy canes and big, densely packed, unopened buds is what you want.
- The rose cane’s exterior is either brown or green (depending on the rose species). Slightly scratching the rose’s skin will allow you to determine whether it is still alive. Underneath the outer layer, there should be a green cambium layer. If it’s brown, the rose isn’t just dormant—actually it’s dead!
Advantages of Bare Root Roses (Rather then Potted Roses)
- The benefit of planting bare root roses in your garden is that there is no transplant shock because they are much lighter and simpler to handle than potted roses (when planted at the right time, in early spring).
- Bare root roses have an advantage over potted roses since you can plant them earlier in the season without worrying that cool temperatures in the early spring will destroy any active growth because they are dormant (without leaf or any other signs of growth). Roses in pots are even less resistant to cool weather. As soon as the ground can be handled and is not frozen solid from frequent frost, you can plant a bare root rose fairly early in the growing season. The rose will start to establish its roots and begin to grow by the time the weather warms.
Planting bare root roses before the summer is good since this will give the roots time to draw up water and strengthen the plant, which will make it more resistant to heat and drying winds.
If you plant your rose later in the growing season, when the weather is warmer, you should give it a good soak at least twice a week, protect it from high winds, and add lots of mulch to the plant to keep the roots cool and preserve moisture.
How to Plant a Bare Root Rose
There are a few things to keep in mind first in order to give your rose the best chance of blooming successfully…
- Place your rose plant in a location with at least six hours of sun each day. Shade-tolerant roses are rather uncommon and do not bear nearly as many blossoms as roses grown in full sunlight.
- Ensure that the pH of your soil is between 6-7. Roses prefer soil that is somewhat acidic. If you are unsure of your soil’s pH, I advise purchasing a cheap soil test kit from Amazon to make sure it is within the ideal range for rose cultivation.
- It is wise to add a lot of organic matter to your planting area, regardless of whether your soil is light sandy or heavy clay. Garden compost, well-rotted horse manure, and leaf mould are all excellent soil additions that give the right soil structure, retain moisture, and give your rose the nutrients it needs for showy blooms and greater disease resistance.
- Pick a location that is not subject to severe winds but allows for air circulation. There is a lower likelihood of powdery mildew or black spot developing on your rose if there is excellent air circulation around it (both common fungal diseases that affect roses). However, strong winds will dry out the rose and may harm the blossoms.
It is time to plant your bare roots rose once you have thought about these instructions and chosen the ideal location.
- By putting bare root roses in a bucket of water with 1 cup of root stimulant, I like to give them a head start. As the name implies, this will encourage root growth so that they can settle in your soil more quickly, be able to take up water sooner, and ultimately provide higher stability and nutrient absorption over time. This will lessen the possibility of your rose drying out in the first few days.
- Make a good-sized hole (about 2 feet broad and 2 feet deep) and push the soil aside. To promote fertility, enhance water retention, and create a solid soil structure that the roots may easily pass through, fill the hole partially with some soil amendments. I personally prefer leaf mold since it is the best organic material for retaining moisture, allowing the roots to draw on it when they emerge from dormancy and resume active growth.
- Give your rose a strong start in life by adding a cup of fertilizer, such as bone meal, to the soil and compost mixture.
- The rose’s bud union, or the knot that joins its roots to canes, has to be 3 inches below the soil surface. To ensure that the bud union will be at the proper depth, place a straight piece of wood or a stick of bamboo over your hole to identify where the soil line will be.
- Fill the remaining space in the hole with soil, leaf mould, or quality compost after placing your rose in it at the proper height (by adding or removing dirt as needed).
- To give the rose support, compact the soil surrounding it, making sure the bud union is below ground level.
- The canes of the roses should then be partially covered with mulch (compost, rotting horse manure, or leaf mold) to prevent moisture loss. This is crucial since the first few weeks are when bare root roses are most susceptible to drying out. Around the rose, pile mulch high. As new shoots start to grow from the canes, you can gradually lessen the amount of mulch that surrounds your rose each week. I accomplish this by gradually removing it with my watering can or hose.
- After planting, give the rose a good bath with about four gallons of water once a week for the first season, directly at the base. Pour the water carefully, being careful to direct it toward the roots in the soil rather than letting it run off the top.
- Once new branches appear, the rose requires fertilization once a month. I use a 2 gallon water container with fish emulsion mixed in (always carefully follow the manufactures instructions to get ratio of water to fertilizer correct). Too much fertilizer applied will have the opposite effect of what is intended.
Throughout the summer, maintain adding mulch around your rose bed to keep the weeds at bay, the ground cool, and the earthworms busy. The nutrients in the ensuing earthworm castings are chelated, meaning they are in an easily assimilated state for the plant.
Always be generous with your mulch to maintain the soil rich and at the proper texture. Healthy roses are considerably more resistant to disease and pests and produce more blossoms.
Always plant bare root roses in the second year for optimum results, so be patient! When the rose is first planted, it will have just come out of dormancy, so it will naturally take some time for it to become established.
I personally prefer roses from the Regosa or Gallica species because they are the hardiest types, have a built-in resistance to disease, and produce an abundance of flowers that endure for a long time and have a great sweet scent.
Roses should not be planted in clay, rocky soil, sandy soil, or windy places.
Due to the unfavorable conditions, there are certain special factors to be aware of while growing roses in clay, sandy, rocky, or windy soils. Use the links above to read my instructions on how to properly plant roses in these circumstances.
Where should I put roses in my garden?
The ideal amount of sunlight for rose bushes is six to eight hours every day for the healthiest plants and the best bloom display. They should also be cultivated in organically rich, well-drained soil. In particularly hot locations, roses thrive when shielded from the intense afternoon light.
Should I soak a bare root rose before planting?
To rehydrate the roots, immerse bare-root roses in a bucket of water for 8 to 12 hours prior to planting. To rehydrate the canes, you can submerge the entire plant. Trim any broken or unhealthy roots after soaking.
What is the best month to plant roses?
The ideal time to plant roses is in the spring (after the last frost) or the fall (at least six weeks before your average first frost). If you plant in the fall, you’ll have enough time for the roots to take hold before the plants go dormant for the winter.
Where is the best place to plant roses?
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