Basic How-to’s for Planting Roses
Most roses require 6 hours of full sun daily during the growing season. Keep this in mind when selecting the location to plant your roses. Each region of the country has proven roses for its area – from roses that do well in cooler climates, to those that thrive in the summer humidity of the south and Midwest. It’s best to check with local rose societies and reputable nurseries to find rose cultivars best adapted to your area. Follow soil preparation guidelines outlined in Corona Tools, PLANTING STRATEGIES post. Roses require loose, well-drained soil that’s been amended with ample quantities of organic matter.
How to Plant Roses:
They need oxygen around the roots, so if you have soil that’s compacted or has high clay content, you will need to amend the planting area thoroughly. Using a round point shovel, dig a planting hole 2-feet deep-by-2-feet wide. Use some of the soil you’ve removed from the planting hole to build up a “cone-shaped” mound inside the base, as tall as the hole is deep. This mound will support the natural downward and outward growth pattern of the rose plant’s roots, stabilizing the plant and supporting top growth.
You can purchase roses bare root, packaged in a plastic bag, cardboard box or a plastic nursery pot. The American Rose Society recommends that you select a #1 grade rose to ensure that the plant is healthy. Select a plant with a large bud union, three or more thumb-sized canes 12- to 15-inches long and preferably with one or more new main canes starting to emerge from the bud union. A bud union is a noticeable bump about 2- to 3-inches in diameter, just above the roots.
When to Plant:
The best time to plant roses is early to mid-spring (after the last frost), preferably on a relatively cool or overcast day. You can also plant roses in the autumn in milder regions of the country. As soon as you purchase a rose or receive one from a mail-order source, remove all the packing material. Sometimes “boxed” roses come with labels indicating the cardboard container can be planted in the ground, but avoid this method, as cardboard may not degrade quickly enough to allow roots to spread. Similarly, it’s best to remove a rose from a peat pot before planting. While peat pots are biodegradable, they may dry out and prevent moisture and nutrients from getting to the rose.
Bare root roses:
Submerge a bare root rose in a bucket of water to which a few tablespoons of a transplant solution, such as Vitamin B-1, have been added. Soak the entire plant at least 12 hours to rehydrate its root system. Before planting, trim off any broken roots. Lower the roots into the planting hole, taking care to center them evenly over the mounded cone and spreading the roots around the full circumference of the plant. Replace soil carefully around the roots to avoid leaving air pockets around roots. Tamp down soil and water thoroughly after planting.
Most hybrid roses are grafted to a standard root stock. The grafted point (or bud union) serves as a guide as to how deeply the rose should be planted. In milder regions of the country (zones 7 to 9), plant so the bud union is visible, just above the soil surface. In colder regions (zones 4 to 6), plant with the bud union below the soil surface, about 2-inches. In extreme conditions where it may not be possible to protect the rose in winter, you can plant the bud union as deep as 3- to 4-inches below the soil surface. Remove any excess soil from the root ball so you can inspect the roots and make sure they appear healthy and evenly developed. Trim off any broken or twisted roots. Lower the roots into the planting hole and spread them evenly throughout the hole. Replace soil carefully around the roots to avoid leaving air pockets around roots. Tamp down soil and water thoroughly after planting. After planting your roses, cover the entire area with a 1- to 2-inch layer of organic mulch to help retain moisture and keep the roots cool.
You can learn more about planting and growing roses from the American Rose Society.