Introduction to Planting Bare Root Roses:
Before you start off digging holes in your garden, you first need to make sure that you have everything you need to begin planting. If you have already ordered your roses from an online retailer, then you won't have the luxury of inspecting them prior to getting them. If you were able to get your roses locally, which I almost always suggest doing, unless you have a really good reason not doing so, make sure that you are choosy about your selection.
Planting bare root roses begins with purchasing a quality rose in the first place! A good tip is to find out when your local garden center receives their roses and getting there right away. The longer they sit around the worse they will get. The plants should be healthy and green and should not be dry and brittle. They also should not be leafing out. Try to find yourself a grade #1 rose as these are the highest quality and should have 3 or more canes that are already well developed. The higher the # of the grade, the lower quality the plant will be.
The Right Location for Planting Bare Root Roses:
Now that you've selected the best rose you can get (hopefully), you probably already have a spot picked out for it. Take a moment to make sure you truly have the right location for your new rose. Roses need a lot of sunlight if you want ample blooms, even the varieties that say they are shade tolerant. They'll grow in partial shade, but they won't perform as well as they would if they were in full sun. a good rule of thumb is at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun light each day.
The spot should also receive good air circulation and have soil that drains well. Now the soil you can fix with amendments if it isn’t ideal, and we'll discuss that in the next section. However air circulation is often something that cannot be changed, especially if you have structures blocking the air movement. Obviously a rose that is growing up a trellis or a fence in an open area is going to receive much more air circulation than a rose growing up against the side of you house where the wind is blocked on one side. Location is key to planting bare root roses and having them do well long term.
Preparation for Planting Bare Root Roses:
The first thing you need to do when you get your roses home is to get them out of the packaging and put them into a soaking solution to hydrate the plant and start to bring it out of dormancy. Now there are A LOT of various methods for soaking plants and you will find plenty of suggestions on what to soak them in I actually use the bleach and vitamin B1 solution myself as the bleach works to sanitize the roots and the B1 is great for helping the plant get a fast start. Use just 1 tbsp of each per gallon of water and soak the plant overnight at least, but not more than a couple of days.
You will probably need to pick up the B1 from your garden center as that's not something most people keep around their homes, but while you're there, pick up a bag of a good organic compost as well (assuming you don't make your own at home). You'll be using this later on when you finally start planting bare root roses.
Planting Bare Root Roses - Potting:
Potting your bareroots is something I only tried doing years after I began gardening and growing roses, when I had talked to another grower who does it with all his roses. This is purely optional of course as you could put your roses right into the ground and they will do just fine, but there is a valid reason for using pots as an intermediary if you choose. The biggest advantage is the roots of the roses seem to always develop much faster in a pot than they do in the ground, which makes establishing your roses that much faster.
The reason planting bare root roses in pots allows them to grow roots faster is actually quite simple. Since the pot sits above ground, the sun can warm the sides all around the plant, rather than just from the top down. This increased temperature really sets the roses to growing fast and you can leave them in these for 3 to 6 months prior to giving them their permanent home in your garden. Just use a potting soil that isn't too heavy and make sure you give your roses plenty of moisture as they will dry out faster in containers.
Planting Bare Root Roses into the Ground:
When you are finally ready to plant your roses into their new home, bring out a wheel barrow and the organic compost you bought earlier. If you potted your roses first, dig a hole that is about twice the diameter of the container, and equally as deep. If you are putting the bareroots right into the ground, dig it wide enough so the roots do not have to be forced into the hole, and deep enough to allow you to mound up soil in the center of the hole and still keep the bud union an inch or two below the surface.
Take your freshly dug soil and mix it with the compost in the wheel barrel at a ratio of 2 parts soil to 1 part compost. When planting bareroot roses, mound up some of your new mix in the center of the hole and then set the bud union at the correct depth. Back fill the hole about halfway and then water thoroughly. Fill the hole the rest of the way and give it another good watering. Top of any settling of the soil that may have occurred during watering.
Once planted, use a lightweight mulch and mound it up around the canes of your newly planted rose. This will help insulate the plant so it doesn't dry out in the first weeks. In a few weeks you will see leaves begin to form and then you can remove the mound and spread the mulch around the base of your plant in a thin layer.
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