Bare Root Roses

What are Bare Root Roses?:

If you are new to growing roses and are not sure what Bare root means when it comes to roses do not worry.  Everyone was new to growing roses at some point and had to start somewhere.  A rose is considered Bare root when it is sold to you without any soil, during its dormant time of the year.  This dormant stage generally runs from November through April and all roses will go through it.

Bare root roses are often cheaper and easier to find than those that are already planted and growing in containers.  You will also find that your options are usually vaster if you are buying a Bare root plant versus a container rose.  There are a large number of nurseries and breeders out there that focus almost entirely on Bare roots because they are cheaper and easier to ship.  A lot of newer growers however I have found are very intimidated by these plants because they are afraid they won’t plant them right and they won’t survive.  These are really not that much more difficult to get started so we will walk you through the steps in this article.

Growing Bare Root Roses:

Let’s assume that you’ve already shopped around and found the perfect rose for your garden and it has finally arrived.  Now you have to get it into the ground and you are not sure what to do.  The first thing you need to do is select the right location for your rose.  Roses in general will need a lot of sun light if you want to get the maximum number of blooms from that plant that you can.  A good rule of thumb is no less than 6 to 8 hours each day of direct sun light.

You will also need to make sure that you plant your bare root roses in soil that drains well.  Roses tend to get very sickly if they are kept soaking wet for long periods of time.  If you are growing roses in containers, then this is not as big of a deal because containers tend to dry out quickly and you can also select the right potting soil for your plant.  If you are growing in a flower bed however, I always suggest that folks pick up a bag of a good organic compost from your local garden center.  Mix that into your garden soil at a ratio of 1 part compost for every 2 parts soil.  That is a pretty good mix for most plants and I have found roses absolutely love it.

Planting Bare Root Roses:

Now once you have chosen the perfect spot for your new rose, you should place the bare root plant in a bucket of room temperature water and let it soak overnight, prior to planting day.  This will help rehydrate the roots of the plant and give it a much better start once you get it in the ground.  Some resources will tell you to mix up a light bleach mixture in the bucket to kill off any bacteria that are on the roots.  While this is sound advice, to be honest I have never done that and have never had a rose die on me after planting so it’s your choice.

When you are ready to plant your bare root roses, dig yourself a hole that is as wide as the longest roots that the plant came with, and deep enough to give you plenty of room to mound up some soil in the center of the hole and set your plant atop that.  You will want to keep the bud union no more than an inch or two below the surface once the hole is filled.

Set your rose in place atop the mound and spread the roots out in all directions, being sure not to overlap them.  Take your soil mix and back fill the hole about halfway to start.  Then using your garden hose, water the loose soil heavily until it flows all around the roots like mud.  Afterwards you can go ahead and back fill the hole the rest of the way but make sure that you top off any final settling that may have occurred.

You also should consider mounding up some fresh mulch around the exposed canes of your bare root roses.  Doing so will help prevent them from drying out while they are forming new growth and roots.  Once you see new buds forming on the canes, you can remove the mound back to ground level.

Caring for Bare Root Roses:

Taking care of your bare root roses is not all that difficult once they are in the ground.  You can pretty much follow normal rose care guidelines.  The most important part is keeping the new roses well hydrated in the first couple of weeks while the roots are forming.  This is a bit of a delicate balance because you don’t want to let it dry out for too long, but you don’t want to overwater it either, and causing the plant to become unhealthy.

Typically on established roses, one deep watering per week is sufficient for mild climates.  If you live in a hot or dry climate, your bare root roses may need watered every 3 to 5 days.  You can test the moisture level of your roses by sticking your finger into the dirt at the base of the rose.  If it comes out wet then you can wait another day or two before watering.

You should also make sure that you do not allow dead leaves and debris to collect around the base of your roses.  These can become breeding grounds for various pests and diseases.  When you prune your roses in the early spring, throw away the cuttings and debris in the trash.  Never throw them into the compost bin as certain spores can survive the cold winter months and re-infect your plants the following spring.  After I’m done planting my roses, I always give them a fresh layer of mulch to start off the new growing season.

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Bare Root Roses
Bare Root Roses
Bare Root Roses
Bare Root Roses
Bare Root Roses