Planting Bare Root Roses 

The easiest way to start with roses is planting bare root roses, but what exactly does that mean?

When it comes to buying roses, your local garden shop or online nurseries will offer the plants in many ways.

It may be tempting to take that wonderful blooming flowerpot back home, but if you really want to do so, it is good advice to inspect the plants well, before buying them.

However, I prefer to buy bare root roses. 

The main reasons are...

  • they can easily be packed, mailed and send with a parcel service
  • they come from reputable rose nurseries
  • they are easy to handle and to plant

When you buy bare root roses, they are completely naked from the top to the roots, without soil or mulching material surrounding them.

Planting Bare Root Roses Step By Step

As the tender plants are delivered in a mailbox with some protecting material wrapped around or in a plastic bag, you have to unpack them as soon as possible.

  • Prune the canes down to 4-6 inches; the roots do not work until now and will shrivel (Be sure the roses are not prepruned by the nursery or  garden shop.) Cut the roots for maximum  ½ inch, to keep as many fibers of the roots as possible
  • Soak the plants for the next 12-24 hours in a bucket of water from the top of the canes to the roots. That step applies especially to planting roses in spring
  • Prepare a plant-hole about 2 feet wide and 2 feet deep. Use the soil of the plant-hole for refilling and whether the soil is not that good, work in some organic soil amendment. Do not use any fertilizer in the plant-hole. That will cause root-damage. Mound the soil in a small moat around the rose and the water will go directly to the base
  • The graft union should be positioned correctly. For areas with cold winters (zone 5 or colder) it is 2 inches below the soil level and for warmer regions 1 inch above the soil level. Press on the soil properly with your shoes and water the plants thoroughly, thereby the soil surrounds the roots completely
  • Watering should be continued until the plant thrives about 4 inches
  • Mounding soil over the roses is a crucial task and should not be skipped. Mounding protects the tender plants from wind, sun and frost. Only the tips of the canes should poke 1-1.5 inches out of the soil. If you plant in spring, remove the soil after 4-8 weeks, when the new shoots are about 3-4 inches in length 

A Word To Planting Schedule For Bare Root Roses

Although the planting time in the USA is mostly in spring, because the big nurseries are targeted to deliver new plants at that time, I am a supporter of fall planting.

The roses are able to develop in the still warm soil and start growing as soon as the frost period is over. Early blooming will be the reward.

In freezing climates, I would prefer planting bare root roses in late spring, to avoid frost damage. However, ask the local gardeners, they will happily help you with that problem.

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