How to Plant Bare-Root Roses

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Bare-root roses don't look very promising - they're all dormant stem and brown roots and look dead - but they're the ideal way to get your roses off to a great start since there's no chance of transplant shock. Plant in early spring in any part of the country or autumn, in USDA Zones 6 and warmer.

Things You'll Need

  • Bare Root Roses
  • Compost Makers
  • Garden Hoses
  • Garden Spades
  • Mulch
  • Watering Cans
  • Buckets
  • Soak the bare-root roses in water for 1 to 6 hours. A five-gallon bucket works well for just a few roses, while a garbage can is a handy container if planting several roses.

  • Choose the right site in your garden or yard. Roses like full sun (at least 6 hours of direct light a day).

  • Prepare a planting hole two feet deep. Work in several spadesful of compost to improve soil fertility and texture.

  • Backfill the hole slightly to form a mound down in the hole. Spread the rose roots over the mound as evenly as possible.

  • Locate the graft union, the knobby part of the rose where the roots meet the stem.

  • Position the graft union 1-2 inches below soil level in USDA Zones 5 and colder. In Zones 6 and warmer, position the graft union just above soil level.

  • Fill in remaining soil.

  • Prune if necessary. Most bare-root roses these days are sold "pre-pruned" so you don't have to do any pruning at the time of planting. However, if your bare-root rose has more than a few canes, or any of the canes are damaged or rubbing against each other, prune them so that you have just 3 to 6 strong canes (rose stems) that curve outward.

  • Mound the soil over the base of the rose to prevent drying out. Water gently but well.

  • Remove the soil in a few weeks once the rose begins to send out new growth by gently pushing away the soil with your hand.

Tips & Warnings

  • Get your roses off to a great start by working a slow-release granular fertilizer into the planting hole. Most such fertilizers take care of all your roses nutrient needs for an entire growing season.
  • Avoid soaking a bare-root rose for more than a few hours or it will become damaged.

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