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Buying & Planting Roses

Updated: Mar 2

  • Purchase #1 grade rose plants, either bare root or potted, from a reputable nursery. Avoid buying “bargain” roses. They will cost more in the long run. Quality rose plants have a strong, healthy root system, and sufficient canes to support growth until the root system becomes established.

  • Consider how the rose has been handled before you buy it. Has it been sitting in a plastic bag in the sun for weeks? Or has it been “potted up” by the nursery & watered regularly?

  • When choosing a place to plant your rose, sunlight, good drainage, and an area with no intruding roots is recommended. While exposure to high winds is not recommended, a location with good air circulation will reduce blackspot and mildew. If existing drainage is bad, consider installing raised beds.

  • If possible, the rose bed should be prepared, soil amended, and holes dug in advance of planting so that settling of the soil can take place. It is best to spade up and amend the soil in the entire bed, rather than just digging holes in existing soil.

  • Organic material is difficult to add to the root zone after planting, so turn it into the soil before planting. You can use compost or other well-aged material. A little organic material is good; a lot is not. Keep the ratio of organic material to about a third.

  • Bare root roses should be soaked overnight in water before planting and the roots should not be exposed to drying sun or wind. Snip root ends to promote hair root growth and remove damaged or crowded canes prior to planting.

  • Planting holes should be deep and wide enough so that the roots fit without bending or crossing. Phosphate fertilizer – super phosphate or bone meal – is the only material that should be placed in the planting hole. Do not add a fertilizer with nitrogen, as this will burn the roots.

  • A mound of soil in the hole’s center will stabilize the plant while it is positioned. The plant should be positioned so the bud union is at ground level. Roots should be spread naturally, while fingers work soil up into the cavity beneath the crown. Gently fill the hole with soil, as the plant is held upright. When 2/3 full, fill the hole with water and let drain. Continue filling with soil and firm gently with hands. Water again.

  • Remove the nametag and place it on a stake. Nametag wires can strangle an expanding cane.

  • Mound soil over the canes to pruning height to conserve moisture. Remove the soil mound, in about two to four weeks or when new growth emerges, with a gentle stream of water.

  • New plants require deep and frequent watering the first season to establish a strong root system.

  • Do not fertilize newly planted plants until after their first bloom.


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