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Tips on How to Plant Bare Root Roses

As a homemaker who wants to make her garden a part of her home, the plants make all of the difference in how a space feels. Follow these tips on how to plant bare root roses so you can have gorgeous roses blooming in your yard! This post contains everything you need to know to create a beautiful landscape of roses in your yard.

tips for how to plant bare root roses and what bare root roses are

I spent my childhood watching my mother tend to her garden. It was a methodical process. She would go out early in the morning before the heat of the sun was too intense and she would pull weeds, her large, straw hat donning her head so she didn’t get too much sun. It is a memory that I carry with me.

Fast forward, and now I am grown up and am planning my own flower garden. I sift through flower books, magazines, and online journals searching for the perfect plants to plant. I want ones that will bring beauty and joy to our little homestead. One flower that will, for sure, be present is the beautiful old world rose, sometimes referred to as the English rose. Today, I’m going to share tips on how to plant bare root roses in your own rose garden.

These roses are so beautiful for a multitude of reasons, but one of the major reasons is that they have tight petals that bunch up in an old fashioned way. There’s something so special about that. Let’s get into the process of purchasing and planting care root roses so you can have some in your garden, too!

What are Bare Root Roses?

Bare root roses are plants that contain the root system, that would be below the earth, and the twigs that you would see above ground. These are dormant plants that are dug up at the perfect time so they can be shipped to the gardener waiting to plant them in their garden. 

Where can I get Bare Root Roses?

Bare root roses are available at many garden centers, your local nursery, and online at specialty stores. The best place to get your old world roses is from a specialty store- either a local nursery or David Austin Roses. I bought my bare root roses from David Austin online. What I love about David Austin Roses is that the company will ship my plant to me right when I need it according to my planting season. It takes so much of the guesswork out of planting bare root roses.

buying and planting desdemona roses

How do Bare Root Roses arrive?

Your mail order shrub roses will arrive with in a plastic bag. As with most bare root plants, general rule of thumb is to soak bare-root roses in gallon buckets for several hours or overnight to rehydrate and prepare them before going into the ground or pot. If you end up soaking the entire plant, that is fine.

They don’t look like much, but with a little care and planting at the opportune time, you will have foliage and flowers growing in no time. 

Type of Rose

There are three main types of rose plants- rose shrubs, rose bushes, or climbing roses. You can choose which plant variety you want based upon where you will plant your roses and how you want them to perform. If planting a rose bush, they tend to look better planted together with several shrubs so you have a fuller looking plant. Climbing roses need something to climb on, whether it be a fence, pergola, trellis, or wall. 

  • Rose Shrubs- Roses that grow on the ground and can reach up to 15 feet wide, if allowed. They typically repeat flower throughout the season and have thorny stems. They can be shaped into hedges and should be planted in threes to get a lush look.
  • Rose bush– These plants are smaller than shrubs and hold tighter to the ground.
  • Climbing Roses– These are sometimes referred to as ramblers. They have long canes (or stems) that can be tied to vertical structures to give the appearance that it is “climbing” up the structure.

Ways to Plant Roses

You can plant your roses in either the ground or a pot. Certain varieties do better in the ground, while certain varieties do better in a planter, so be sure to look at that before getting a rose.

david austin rose guide for buying bare root roses

When to Plant Bare Root Roses

The best time of year to plant bare root roses is in early spring, after the last hard frost, but when the weather is still cool. If you plant them in the fall, there is a chance of them not doing well through the winter.

If you get a container rose, one that is already growing and arrives in a container, you can plant in the fall when the soil is easier to work with. Be sure to plant it early enough that the roots can get established before the weather turns cold and the plant goes dormant. If you are a first time gardener, these tend to be easier to grow and are easy to find at nurseries and garden centers.

 Look at the label for your specific rose plant, or the information provided by the nursery, to know the right planting window for the plant for your planting zone. I bought my bare root roses from David Austin and they ship them to me based upon my zone. That is a huge benefit of shopping from a specialty store. They ship new rose bushes or container bushes right when you need them and they are the highest quality

I purchased my bare root roses in the fall and listed my zone when ordering. David Austin will then send me my plants at precisely the right time for planting. That takes so much of the guess work out of it for me.

How to a Plant Bare Root Shrub Rose in the Ground

  1. Bare Root Roses Arrive at about the same time as your soil thaws, according to your zone
  2. Soak roses in a bucket of water for 2 hours to overnight to hydrate the roots of the plant.
  3. Dig a hole in an area that has at least 4 hours of direct sun each day. The hole should be roughly 16” deep and 16” wide so the root has space to settle in. Place the rose roots in the bottom of the hole, which should put the “rose canes” of the plant at ground level with the base of the plant right at the soil surface. The bud union, where the roots of the rose and new growth/canes come together should be above the ground. The bud union tends to look like a knob in the middle of the plant.
  4. Add rose fertilizer, or compost, to the hole and toss with a bit of garden soil to create a fertile soil for your rose plant. It’s always a good idea to toss new soil with garden soil to keep the soil around the plant well fertilized and acclimated.
  5. Place the base of the plant in the hole
  6. Fill with dirt and water the roots of the roses well to get them acclimated. It is important to have moist soil so the plant can get settled in and the roots can get established.

How to Plant Roses in a Pot or Planter

  1. Most root plants need 18″ to grow and thrive in a pot, so make sure you get a planter the wide. A larger rose plant will need even more space, so be sure to check the label for the plant you are purchasing to be sure.
  2. Place a couple of styrofoam blocks at the bottom of your planter and fill the remaining pot with a high-quality garden soil and compost. Some garden centers sell compost, so don’t skip out on this step! Press down gently to remove air pockets from the soil.
  3. Place the roots of your plant in the soil and backfill with garden soil to create a secure home for your plant.
  4. Water generously to give your plant a good start.

What is the Rose Growing Season

Growing season for roses depends on planting zone, whether you are planting in colder climates or mild climates, and rose type, but roses typically grow from early spring into summer. Some hardy rose types will even grow into late summer before they go dormant.

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