Planting Bare Root Roses: The Secrets to Success

planting bare root roses

Improper Storage

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For the best chance of success with your bare root rose, we recommend planting right away. The longer the rose is held, the more likely it will develop mold or decay on the canes and roots and use up all of its stored energy reserves to stay alive. However, if you are unable to plant your rose immediately, wrap it back in the plastic bag it came in and store it in a dark, cool location, with a temperature of 35-42 degrees F for up to a week. Make sure to check on it daily to ensure it remains moist without developing mold or fungus.

If you need to hold it longer than one week, consider a process known as “heeling in,” which involves temporarily planting the rose until you can transfer it to its permanent location. For detailed instructions on heeling in, check out our blog post on how to heel in bare root roses.

Allowing Your Rose to Dry Out Before Planting

PLEASE DON’T unwrap your rose plant, remove it from the bag, and leave it sitting in the corner of your garage for weeks. Your bare root rose needs to stay moist and cool to stay viable until planting. If you can’t plant immediately, wrap the rose back in the plastic bag and store it in a dark, cool location. Do not leave the bag open and let your rose dry out. Check on it every 1-2 days to ensure it remains moist and free from mold or decay. Consider heeling in your rose if you need to store it for an extended period of time before planting. You can find step-by-step directions for heeling in your rose plant here.

Planting Your Rose Too High or Too Low

When planting your bare root rose, dig a hole that is big enough to accommodate the depth of the roots. If you have a grafted rose, in cold weather regions, we recommend planting the bud union 2-3 inches below the ground. In warmer weather regions, plant the bud union 1-2 inches above the ground at most. For own root roses, plant to the base of the canes. Make sure that the soil or mulch/compost is nestled just below the graft union at the base of the canes to facilitate easy removal of suckers.

Planting Outside of Recommended Dates for Your Growing Zone

Bare root roses are typically planted January through May depending on your growing zone. It is essential to plant your rose during the dormant season after the risk of hard freeze weather has passed. Planting outside of the recommended dates for your zone can hinder your rose’s ability to thrive. Consult the chart below to determine the best time to order and plant bare root roses in your garden.

Growing Zone Planting Period
Zone 9 April – May
Zone 6 February – March
Zone 7 February – April

Bare root roses prefer to be planted during the dormant season when the risk of hard freeze weather has ended. Stick to the chart above to select a planting time and set yourself up for success. Not sure of your growing zone? Enter your zip code here!

Improper Watering

Water your newly planted bare root roses daily for a minimum of 1-2 weeks with overhead water to keep the canes and roots hydrated as they establish. If you get a lot of rain in your area, you can skip this step. After you see buds start to push and the first signs of leaf growth, you can switch to a drip irrigation system or hand water at the base of the plant as needed. Remember to keep the root zone moist but avoid waterlogging the surface.

Planting in the Wrong Location

To ensure the success of your roses, select a location that receives six to eight hours of sunlight, has well-drained soil, and minimal wind. Before planting, it is advisable to test your soil for optimal conditions. If the test results recommend adding fertilizer or amendments, be sure to do so before planting. If the soil test indicates unfavorable conditions, consider choosing a different location for your rose or planting it in a raised bed or pot. Check out our blog post for more tips on planting roses in containers.

Using Colored Bark Around the Base of Your Rose

The majority of unsuccessful bare root roses we see from customers are surrounded by colored bark. This prevents moisture from reaching the roots during the critical early weeks after planting. It may also be treated with harmful chemicals that can harm your rose. Instead, we recommend removing colored bark and covering the base of your canes with a layer of compost or compost + mulch.

Applying Fertilizer Too Soon

DO NOT apply any rose fertilizer until you see the first set of leaves push out. Give your bare root rose time to establish itself before adding anything extra to the soil. Once the first full sets of leaves appear, feed your rose with a balanced rose fertilizer once every 6-8 weeks. Consider conducting a soil test post-planting to determine if any amendments are required.

Applying Systemic Insecticide or Fungicide in the First Year

DO NOT use any granular systemic insect or fungicide control product on your bare root rose in its first year. Instead, apply foliar applications of Neem Oil, PyGanic, or Spinosad for insect and disease control during the growing season.

Remember, successful rose planting requires careful attention to detail and adherence to these secrets of success. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to growing thriving, beautiful roses!

Planting Bare Root Roses: The Secrets to Success

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