Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Perennials

Planting Roses

by National Gardening Association Editors


A Hybrid Tea Rose Garden

Get your roses off to the best possible start by choosing their growing site carefully and then planting them using the techniques most suitable for your climate. Bare-root rose plants--those sold without soil--offer the best value and grow quickly after planting.

Tools and Materials

  • Bare-root rose plant
  • Measuring tape
  • Shovel or spade
  • Wheelbarrow or tarp
  • Soil amendments, see text
  • Water source, hose or bucket
  • Organic mulch, such as shredded bark

Choose the Planting Site

Roses need at least 6 hours of direct sun each day, although some afternoon shade is best in hot climates. Plant them in a spot where air can circulate and dry their leaves soon after a rain, and give them fertile soil that drains quickly.

Determine the Depth to Plant.

Most rose plants consist of two parts: the rootstock and the flowering canes. The bulge where the parts join, called the graft union, gets planted just at or below ground level, depending on your climate. Where winter temperatures drop to -10F or colder, plant the graft union 4 to 6 inches deep. In warmer climates, place it just at or slightly above the soil surface.

Dig the Hole

Keep the roots cool and moist while you dig the planting hole. The hole should be deep enough to set the graft union at the proper depth and at least wide enough to allow the roots to extend without bending. Put the removed soil in a wheelbarrow or on a tarp.

Amend the Soil

Very sandy or heavy clay soils benefit from the addition of organic material. Mix the soil from the planting hole with 25 percent compost and 25 percent composted bark plus a few handfuls of composted manure. Mix well. Get your roses off to the best possible start by choosing their growing site carefully and then planting them using the techniques most suitable for your climate. Bare-root rose plants--those sold without soil--offer the best value and grow quickly after planting.

Partially fill the hole with the soil mix, making a cone or mound in the center over which to drape the roots.

Set the Rose in the Hole

Set the Rose in the Hole
Planting Bare Root Roses

Adjust the height of the cone so that the graft union is at the right level, as determined using the guidelines above. Spread the roots evenly around the cone.

Backfill and Water

Holding the rose at the right planting depth, fill the hole with soil, working it carefully around the roots. When the hole is nearly full, water thoroughly to settle the soil. Finish filling the hole and create a low ring of soil around the perimeter of the hole. Water again. Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch in a circle around the plant, taking care to keep the mulch 3 to 4 inches away from the canes. Water as necessary to keep the soil evenly moist until the rose resumes vigorous growth.

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