The first hints of spring inspire many gardeners to consider planting roses. While many perennials and shrubs are planted in the fall, the best time to plant roses is early spring. You can plant either bare root roses or container grown rose plants in the spring and be enjoying blooms by summer.

Your Zone Determines the Best Rose Planting Time

Before setting out rose plants or bare roots, you want to check your gardening Hardiness Zone to find the date for the last frost. You will then plant your rose plants/bare roots following the zone guideline. In most hardiness zones, the best time to plant roses is early spring. This is sometime between late February and early April.

Hardiness Zones for Gardening

Find your gardening zone with the online USDA hardiness zone finder. Simply enter your zip code and follow the first and last frost dates given.

  • The first frost date for the year comes in the fall.
  • The last frost date for the year is in the spring.

Zone Frost Dates for Planting Roses

You can use the USDA Hardiness Zone map to ensure you’re using the right zone information. The zones are listed 1 through 13. According to Rogue Valley Roses, Zone 3 is the coldest zone possible to grow roses. Zones 10 to 13 might not have enough winter cold for Alba and Gallica rose classes to flower, so check with your local nursery before buying.

Below are the last and first frost date guidelines for Zones 3 through 9:

  • Zone 3: The last frost date is May 15. The first frost date is September 15.
  • Zone 4: The last frost dates is May 15 to June 1. The first frost date is September 15 to October 1.
  • Zone 5: The last frost date is May 15. The first frost date is October 15.
  • Zone 6: The last frost date is April 1 to April 15. The first frost date is October 15 to 30.
  • Zone 7: The last frost date is mid-April. The first frost date is mid-October.
  • Zone 8: The first frost date is October 11 to October 20. The last frost date is March 21 to March 31.
  • Zone 9: The timeframe between the first and last frosts is often one to two weeks in January.

Tips for Planting in Zones

A few quick tips for planting roses in your zone include:

  • Roses should be planted after all danger of frost has passed.
  • The soil should be warmed up and easy to work after that date.
  • Soil that’s too frozen or sopping wet and muddy from spring rains shouldn’t be worked.
  • If the soil is muddy, wait until the soil has dried enough to allow proper planting.

Planting Considerations for Roses

Before planting roses, choose your spot carefully. Roses will be happier and healthier if given the optimum conditions. These include:

  • Full sun: Defined as six or more hours per day of direct sunshine, full sun means your roses should receive morning light. An eastern, southeastern or southern exposure is ideal.
  • Air circulation: Roses need good air circulation, so be sure that you don’t plant them in a closed in or a boxed-in area that doesn’t receive fresh free flowing air.
  • Place to avoid planting: You don’t want to plant roses too close to buildings or near large trees. Both locations can set-up conditions for the growth of molds, mildews and other microbes that cause black spot, a disease that can weaken or kill the plant.
  • Soil type: Roses like rich soil and love compost, especially composted horse or cow manure. Add as much compost as you can to the soil prior to planting.
  • Compost: As with all composts, be sure that any compost added to the soil has a chance to break down before planting.
  • Manure: Never add fresh manure directly to the soil or near plants as it can burn tender roots.

Special Considerations for Bare Root Roses

Keep in mind that bare root roses should be planted as early in the season as possible. Bare root roses are the kind you see in boxes and are usually the types shipped via mail order.

  • You should plant while still dormant, or before shoots begin to grow off of the main branch.
  • You can and should plant a bare root rose that’s already begun to sprout, it’s better for the plant if it’s in the ground before it begins to put the energy into growing new leaves and stems.
  • There are special instructions for planting bare root roses since they’re planted a little differently than potted or container grown roses. Be sure to review the guidelines for rose planting from Ohio State University.
  • Bare root roses have a lower survival rate than potted rose plants.

Timing for Planting Roses

It’s all about timing when it comes to planting roses. Make sure the danger of frost has passed before setting out plant or bare root roses and you’ll have lots of blooms all summer.

The Basics of Growing Roses


Bare root roses should be planted when the daytime temperatures are between 40-60F. Aside from times of extreme weather, potted roses can be planted at any time during the year. The extreme weather conditions that we advise against planting in are when the ground is frozen, water-logged or during a drought.


Roses are extremely versatile and hardy plants that can be planted in a variety of positions and locations in the garden. When selecting a planting location, we recommend you consider the following points to ensure the rose thrives:

1. Ensure plenty of sunlight

Roses thrive on direct sunlight. For best results, a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight is recommended.

However, even when planted against a north wall (meaning no direct sunlight) roses can still perform well.

2. Avoid intense competition from other plants

The closer you plant your rose to other plants, the more competition there is for moisture and sunlight.

For best results, plant your rose 3 feet away from other plants and 2 feet from other roses.

Avoid planting a rose under an overhanging tree branch.

3. Avoid very exposed, windy sites

Strong winds can cause the base of the rose to loosen in the soil. This will result in your rose rocking in the wind which will lead to it growing at an angle, which in extreme cases will kill it.

To prevent this, ensure you follow our planting instructions.

If you find this problem with a rose you already have, make sure you firm the soil around it. In some cases a stake may be necessary.


For advice on planting choose from the links below:

How to plant a bare root shrub rose

How to plant a bare root climbing rose


Watering is arguably the most important aspect of growing any plant. The right amount of watering will promote a healthy shrub that will flower over a long period.

How much water?

As a guide, we recommend watering the following amount per rose each time you water:

Shrub roses – 1-3 gallons

Climbing roses – 3-6 gallons

Rambling roses – 3-6 gallons

Standard roses – 3-6 gallons

Roses in pots – 1-3 gallons

When to water?

The need for watering varies greatly throughout the year and is directly related to the amount of rain that has fallen. We suggest the following:

Fall – Winter

Water as needed if the ground is completely dry until the rose goes dormant.


Watch out for particularly prolonged dry spells.

Newly planted roses – water every two or three days.

Established roses – water once or twice a week as needed to keep the soil moist around your roses.


Established roses – water as needed to keep the soil moist around your roses. As your rose starts blooming, take note if your flowers are wilting. This will happen in extreme heat but is a reliable sign that your roses need more water.

Newly planted roses – water every other day.

What you need

The best way to water is with a watering can, so that you can see how much water you are using. If you have a lot of roses, then a hose with a rose attachment is more practical.

How to water

It is best to water as close to base of the rose as you can. If the water is starting to flow away from the base, stop for a moment to allow the water to soak in, then continue. Don’t water over the flowers or foliage. Watering foliage can encourage disease problems, particularly if it remains on the leaves overnight. We recommend a softer spray rather than a fierce deluge from a jet spray or pressure hose. If using a hose, try to get a fitting that has a rose setting. If you haven’t got a special fitting, make sure the pressure is not too high on your hose.

Roses or situations that require extra attention:

Newly planted roses.

Climbing Roses planted against walls due to the dry nature of the soil in that location.

Roses planted in sandy soil.

Roses planted in a pot or container.


All roses appreciate being fed, particularly our repeat-flowering English Roses. If you wish to get the most out of your roses we always recommend feeding.

When to feed

For the best results, we recommend two annual feeds:

At the beginning of the growing season.

After the first bloom cycle has finished, promoting stronger repeat flowering.

For the best results, we recommend using our own specially formulated David Austin Rose Food. (not available in all states)

How to feed

Simply sprinkle Rose Food around the base of each rose (see packaging for full instructions).


For advice on pruning choose from the links below:

How to prune a shrub rose

How to prune a climbing rose


We recommend mulching as it helps to retain moisture and to suppress weeds.

When to mulch

You can do this at any time of year. For the best results, mulch in early spring.

For best the results, we recommend small bark chippings.

How to mulch

Firstly, remove all of the weeds in your rose border.

Secondly, apply about an inch thick layer of bark around the base of the rose and any bare soil next to your rose. The more you apply the better the moisture retention and weed suppressant.

If you are mulching when the soil is dry, water well either before or after mulching.


Spraying roses to control pests

Aphids and caterpillars are the most common pests.

When to Spray

When you see them.

We recommend pesticides by Bayer or Ortho against most pests.

How to spray to control Pests

Aphids and caterpillars can be removed by hand in the earliest stages.

If spraying, see packaging for instructions.

Spraying roses to control disease

The main fungal challenges for roses are rust, black spot and powdery mildew. David Austin English Roses as a group are relatively resistant to disease. However, in some situations they too may require spraying.

When to spray

We recommend you spray at the first sign of disease. It is best to act quickly to prevent disease spreading.

Banner Maxx is effective against black spot, powdery mildew and rust.

How to spray

See packaging for instructions.


Why Dead Head

There are two good reasons to dead head:

To encourage repeat-flowering – this stops your rose producing seeds in the hips, which are formed after flowering, so that it has more energy for repeat-flowering.

Shaping – it is an opportunity to shape your shrub.

When to dead head

This should be done as soon after each flowering as possible up to late Fall. After that it is unlikely that you will get much more growth or flowering, as your plant will be getting ready for winter.

How to Dead Head

Each flowering stem can be cut back as far as three sets of leaves. The amount you cut back controls, to some extent, the shape and size of your plant.

If you are unsure, cut back to the point where the flowers stop being produced on the stem.

Planting and Caring for Roses

The best time to buy roses is in late winter, when they’re available as dormant bare-root plants, or during the first bloom flush of spring, when they’re sold as flowering container plants (shop early for the widest possible selection).

Roses appreciate well-amended soil. If you know you’ll be planting bare-root roses at some time in winter, clean up the area and amend the soil in fall. That will leave you with less work to do come planting time, when the weather is often cold and unpredictable and you may be rushing to set in a bare-root plant between storms.

Because most modern roses put out new growth and flowers throughout the growing season, they need regular water and consistent fertilizing during that time. In general, a rose needs constantly moist (but not soggy) soil to the full depth of its roots. This can take up to 5 gallons of water per rose in sandy soil, almost 8 gallons in loam, and up to 13 gallons in clay. Water again when the top few inches of soil are dry—usually within a week for sandy soil, 10 days for loam, and up to 2 weeks for clay. Mulch around plants to enhance moisture retention.

Roses are heavy feeders. Many gardeners prefer to work a controlled-release complete fertilizer into the top few inches of soil at the start of the growing season (before applying a mulch). If you don’t go the controlled-release route, plan on feeding your repeat-flowering roses every 6 weeks (with a dry granular fertilizer) or every month (with a liquid fertilizer). Stop fertilizing about 6 weeks before the first frost date—or in September, if you live in a mild-winter climate.

With repeat-flowering kinds, deadhead spent blooms regularly, cutting back several inches to a five-leaflet leaf. If the rose bears attractive hips, stop deadheading in September. You’ll be able to enjoy the brightly colored hips during autumn, and you’ll also be sending a signal to the plant that it’s time to slow down and prepare for dormancy. There’s no need to deadhead roses that flower just once a year.

Planting Roses

Sophie Thomson

SOPHIE THOMSON: I don’t think there’s another flower that’s so captured the heart of gardeners as the rose. They’ve been with us for thousands of years, but in the 1700’s, it was the arrival in Europe ofRosa chinensisfrom China that saw a huge increase in varieties of garden roses.

Since then, thousands of varieties and cultivars have been bred and today I’m going to plant some of my favourites.

Now the popular image of a rose is a bush rose, but don’t forget climbers. Climbers are a really useful plant to disguise slightly unsightly things in a garden. Now here, I’m going to plant a climbing rose on my new garden shed. It’s a rose calledlaevigata(Cherokee Rose -Rosa laevigata) which is an interesting one. It only flowers in springtime and it doesn’t look like much here, but it produces the most beautiful single white blooms which a boss of golden yellow stamen and a beautiful perfume. Now it’s only once-flowering in spring – it doesn’t give you the repeat, but its foliage is virtually evergreen in a warmer climate – and when it grows, it’s quite vigorous. It’s going to smother the end of this shed and look spectacular as a backdrop to my extra vegie patch.

Now because it’s winter, I’m planting bare-rooted roses. This is when the best selection is available and they’re also cheapest. Now what bare-rooted means is that they’ve got no soil around them – they’re not actually actively growing. It’s really important that you don’t let the roots dry out before planting. While I’m preparing the holes, I like to have them soaking in a bucket of water for about an hour or so.

In this bed, I’m going to plant seven roses and I’ll plan them so that the tall ones will be at the back with the vegie garden as the backdrop and the lower ones will be at the front.

Several months ago, I knew I was going to plant this area, so what I did was to do sheet composting and what that means is I simply covered over all the weeds with newspaper and put compost on top. When we go to plant the bare-rooted rose, we make sure that there’s no broken or damaged roots and those that need to be pruned off and we make a bit of a mound in the centre of the hole and then it’s just simply a question of spreading the roots over that and then backfilling, so this is the bud union and we need to make sure we don’t bury that – that needs to be just above the soil level.

This particular rose is one calledRosa hugonis. Now it’s another species rose, so it only flowers in spring, but it has the most beautiful pale lemon flowers – rather small – and really interesting soft, green, ferny foliage. It’s called Father Hugo’s Rose and it was discovered in China.

You’ll notice that these bare-rooted roses were bigger than what you’d usually get. That’s because my local rose nursery happened to have some that were a year older and it doesn’t matter that they’re bigger because they had good root systems. This particular one is a David Austin rose called ‘Wild Flower.’ It has beautiful single white flowers with buff coloured buds and it’s going to get only about, you know, 60 to 90 centimetres high which will be lovely with the taller roses behind it.

Water the roses in well to help them settle in, but being winter, I shouldn’t need to water them again till springtime.

The last step is simply to mulch well. I like to use a straw-based mulch. It’ll stop weeds appearing on this bare soil and it’ll also keep the roses happy over the hot weather and now all I have to do is sit back and wait for the spring bling.

Now of course, you don’t have to grow a rose in the ground – you can actually grow it in a pot and here I’ve got a miniature rose, so it will be appropriate for this sized pot. When you get a bare-rooted rose bundled like this, the important thing is to take it out of the bag and what you’ll find is that’s actually sawdust. Now you don’t put the sawdust in the hole because that’ll actually take nitrogen away from your plant. I’ll just let it break down on the ground there. That’ll be fine. I’ll leave that soaking while I get the pot ready.

With roses in pots, you need to have good drainage. Now this pot’s got a couple of holes in the bottom, but I’m going to put bits of crock which is old broken terracotta pot on top, just to make sure that the roses’ roots don’t choke them up and then it’s just a question of filling the pot with good quality potting soil.

Now the main thing to bear in mind whenever you plant a rose in a pot is you’re going to need to water it more because obviously pots dry out more than plants in the ground. I would expect I’ll need to water this rose daily in summer whereas the roses in the ground, will probably only need a really good soak about once a week to 10 days.

Beautiful. This particular variety’s one of my favourites. It’s a miniature rose called ‘The Fairy’ and it produces large bunches of mid-pink flowers. A few sprays in a vase and it looks fantastic and against the silver-grey of the Wormwood behind, it’s going to make a wonderful combination. Can’t wait to see it flower in spring.

COSTA GEORGIADIS: As part of our 25 year celebrations, we’re digging into the archives to have another look at some of the stories that mean something special to our presenters. This week, it’s Jane’s turn.

JANE EDMANSON: Gardens always involve people. It involves the spirit of the person behind the garden – the challenges that they face, their warmth and their generosity – and they’re the kind of stories that I really like presenting, so this story about Frank and Isabel Baguley, who were one the icons of Australian horticulture, is really one that was most memorable.

Harkness supply top quality bare root roses

Our Bare Root Roses are field grown, in the traditional way that rose plants have been grown for generations. All our rose plants are individually grafted onto a root stock, and have 20 months growing time in the field from planting to lifting from the field.

Bare Root Roses have been supplied for generations to gardeners, councils and other customers. The term Bare Root refers to the roots of the plant, which are ‘Bare’ (having no soil). This is the way most of the plants that we have sold over the last 135 years have been supplied. It is a tried, tested and successful way of moving plants from the nursery to the garden.

Care of Bare Root Plants – it is easy!

When Bare Root Rose plants are delivered to you they are very easy to care for. The important things to remember are:

If you are not ready to plant when they arrive

The plants will be perfectly happy in the packaging, unopened, for up to seven days so long as you keep the plants in a cool place – this is the dormant season for the plants, they expect to be outside for all the cold Winter weather, so they should be kept cool to cold, out of the sun and away from any heat source.

Do not let the plants dry out. Keep the bag sealed up, that will prevent air circulation and keep the plants moist.

When you are ready to plant your Bare Root Roses

Follow the instructions that are on the bag and in the Enjoy Your Roses booklet included in the parcel or on this web site.

How To Order

Order at Any Time
• Website: using the secure ordering facility
• Email: [email protected]
• Post: Harkness Roses, The Rose Garden, Cambridge Road, Hitchin, Herts SG4 0JT.

Order during Office Hours (09.00 to 17.00 Monday to Friday)
• Telephone: 01462 420402
• Telephone: 0044 1462 420402 for international calls

Despatch Information for Bare Root Roses
Delivery is available to U.K. Mainland, Islands, E.U. and other destinations (Standard Roses can only be delivered to U.K. Mainland)
Delivery Charge
• For any quantity of Bare Root Rose plants: £4.95 to U.K. Mainland.

Please Provide
• Post-code and telephone number of the billing and receiving address if different.
• Instructions for leaving packages in case no-one will be present to take delivery. Otherwise, the driver will leave a card notifying attempted delivery.

• Choosing a Delivery Date

For small parcels of Bare Root Roses we use Royal Mail for delivey, larger consignments are sent using an ovenight courier service. Due to transit times varying we can not always guarantee delivery dates, but we always try to meet our customers requests.
• Delivery Days by courier are Tuesdays to Fridays inclusive.

We despatch on Mondays to Thursdays for our courier to deliver on Tuesdays to Fridays. For outlying areas of U.K. Mainland we despatch Monday to Wednesday as they often take 48 hours to deliver.

This despatch pattern is to give the plants the minimum time in transit. While they are growing living plants it is unpleasant for them to spend excessive time in a warehouse, shut away from light in a dark box. Our intention is to avoid the plants spending a weekend in a warehouse or roasting in the back of a couriers lorry on a sunny Summer Sunday.

Prices, Discounts and Offers

• Credit and Debit card payments are debited at the time orders are placed. On our web site you can choose to use Sage Pay or PayPal, both of which offer security to you
• Cheques are banked on receipt in the office.

At times we will make special offers which are only available within the terms and conditions of the offer that we make. All offers are made subject to stock availability

Additional Information
• Prices for bare root roses are shown throughout this website, each variety has a web page as a Bare Root Rose.
• All roses are available as Bare Root, subject to being in stock at the time of ordering. As the season progresses certain roses will become sold out. A phone call is all it takes to check availability. We can make delivery of Bare Root Roses outside the UK mainland, please contact us for additional information.
• ‘Enjoy Your Roses’: an 8 page booklet of Planting & Care advice is enclosed in your delivery.

Planting Rose Bushes – Step By Step Instructions To Plant A Rose Bush

By Stan V. Griep
American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District

Planting roses is a fun and enjoyable way to add beauty to your garden. While planting roses may seem intimidating for the beginning gardener, in fact, the process is very easy. Below you will find instructions on how to plant a rose bush.

Steps for Planting Roses

Start by digging a hole for planting the rose in. See if the depth is right for your area. By this I mean that in my area I need to plant the actual graft of the rose bush at least 2 inches below what will be my finished grade line to help with winter protection. In your area, you may not need to do that. In areas that get cold winters, plant the rose bush deeper to protect it against the cold. In warmer areas, plant the graft at the soil level.

The grafted area usually is easily seen and looks like a knot or bump out just above the root system start and up onto the rose bush trunk. Some rose bushes are own root and will not have a graft at all, as they are grown on their very own roots. The grafted roses are rose bushes where a hardier rootstock is grafted onto a rose bush that might not be so hardy if left on its own root system.

Okay, now that we have placed the rose bush in the planting hole, we can see if the hole is deep enough, too deep or too shallow. We can also see if the hole is big enough in diameter so as not to have to bunch the roots all up just to get it in the hole. If too deep, add some of the soil from the wheelbarrow and pack lightly into the bottom of the planting hole. Once we have things just right, we will form a little mound in the center of the planting hole using some of the soil from the wheelbarrow.

I put 1/3 cup of super phosphate or bone meal in with the soil in the bottom of the planting holes for the big rose bushes and ¼ cup in the holes for the miniature rose bushes. This gives their root systems some great nourishment to help them get well established.

As we place the rose bush into its planting hole, we drape the roots carefully over the mound. Slowly add soils from the wheelbarrow to the planting hole while supporting the rose bush with one hand. Tamp the soil lightly, as the planting hole is filled to support the rose bush.

At about the half full mark of the planting hole, I like to add 1/3 cup of Epsom Salts sprinkled all around the rose bush, working it lightly into the soil. Now we can fill the planting hole the rest of the way up, tamping it lightly as we go ending up by mounding the soil up onto the bush about 4 inches.

Tips for Care After Planting Rose Bushes

I take some of the amended soil and make a ring around each rose bush to act a bit like a bowl to help catch the rainwater or water from other watering sources for the new rose bush. Inspect the canes of the new rose bush and prune back any damage thereto. Pruning off an inch or two of the canes will help send a message to the rose bush that it is time for it to think about getting to growing.

Keep an eye on the soil moisture for the next several weeks — not keeping them too wet but moist. I use a moisture meter for this so as not to over water them. I sink the probe of the moisture meter down as far as it will go in three areas around the rose bush to make sure I get an accurate reading. These readings tell me if more watering is in order or not.

Rose Care

Planting Roses
Bare Root Roses
Roses Growing in Plastic Containers
Roses Growing in Biodegradable Containers
Watering Roses
Fertilizing Roses
Pruning Roses

Planting Roses

All roses prefer a spot in your garden that receives at least six to eight hours of full sun a day and a rich, organic, well-drained soil. Roses can be purchased as bare-root, growing in plastic containers, or growing in biodegradable containers. Planting direction for each is a little different.

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Bare Root Roses

Bare root rose are an easy and inexpensive option for early season planting. These dormant plants often are sold in plastic bags filled with moist sawdust to keep the plants hydrated until planting.

1. Soak the roots in a bucket of water for 8-12 hours prior to planting.

2. Trim canes so they are approximately 8″ long. Remove any damaged canes.

3. Dig a hole approximately 18″ wide and 18″ deep.

4. Add compost or soil conditioner and mix with the soil dug from the hole.

5. Form a mound of the soil mixture in the center of the planting hole.

6. Position the rose on top of the soil mound, spreading the roots down the sides. Position the graft union at or just above the ground level. In cold winter climates, position the graft union 1 to 2″ below the ground level.

7. Backfill the hole with soil mixture eliminating any air pockets by packing down.

8. Water thoroughly, adding additional soil as necessary as soil settles.

9. Mound the canes with an additional four to six inches of soil to prevent withering of the canes before the roots become established. Once new growth begins to develop, remove this soil slowly over a week’s time.

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Roses Growing in Plastic Containers

Roses grown in plastic containers can be planted year-round. They are easiest to plant because you have a plant that is already growing.

1. Thoroughly water before planting.

2. Remove plant from the container by squeezing the container, laying it on its side, and then gently sliding out while keeping the root ball intact.

3. Dig hole twice the diameter of the root ball and as deep.

4. Mix soil conditioner or compost with the soil dug out from the hole.

5. Set the plant in the hole making sure to position the graft union at or just above the ground level. In cold winter climates, position the graft union 1-2″ below the ground level.

6. Fill in around the root ball with soil mix, eliminating all air pockets by packing down.

7. Water thoroughly and apply a thick layer of organic mulch around your new plants to conserve moisture.

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Roses Growing in Biodegradable Containers

Roses are sometimes offered for sale in cardboard boxes or biodegradable containers labeled “Plant pot and all”.

1. Make sure the plant is well watered before planting.

2. Cut away the lip of the pot with a utility knife, so the pot is the same height as the soil level.

3. Cut four or five vertical slices up the sides of the pot and into the soil.

4. Follow steps 3-7 above, planting pot and all.

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Watering Roses

• Newly planted roses need more frequent watering than established plants. A sign of wilting foliage in the morning signals the need for water. Thoroughly soak the root ball and surrounding soil. As the plant roots grow out into the surrounding soil, watering frequency can be reduced.

• Water established roses only when they need it, thoroughly allowing water to seep deep into the root system. Too much watering wastes water and pushes nutrients away from the plant roots which can lead to excessive weeding, fertilizing and pruning. Frequent light watering encourages a shallow root system that is not as prepared to handle the rigors of prolonged drought. Water plants early in the day to minimize water loss due to evaporation. Avoid wetting foliage, especially in the evening, to reduce disease problems.

• Roses growing in patio containers usually require more frequent watering than plants in the ground. Be sure that all pots have drainage holes to prevent overwatering. Check plants often and be sure to wet the soil thoroughly until the entire root ball is saturated and water runs from the drainage holes.

• In the hot summer months, roses need water only when they show signs of stress in the morning, which is expressed as curled or drooping leaves and branches. At this time of the year, some plants exhibit minor wilting in the afternoon that is natural as long as rigor is regained by morning.

• Drip irrigation systems and soaker hoses are a great way to effectively water roses while conserving water, reducing your water bill, and promoting disease free plants.

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Fertilizing Roses

• Be sure your roses are well watered prior to application of fertilizer.

• Fertilize roses in early spring once the chance of frost has passed and just before new growth begins. Additional light feedings can be applied throughout the growing season to encourage growth and flowering. Frequency depends on the type of fertilizer used. Always follow package directions.

• Stop feeding in late summer to enable tender new growth to mature before winter.

• As a general rule, apply dry fertilizers (non-foliar-feed) on the soil between the trunk and the drip line (end of the branches). Always keep dry fertilizers away from the canes to prevent burning.

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Pruning Roses

Prune Hybrid Tea, Floribunda and Grandiflora roses 3 to 4 weeks before the average date of the last killing frost in your area.

• Remove 1/3 to 2/3 of the plant to stimulate new growth and flower production.

• Remove canes that are damaged and one of two canes which may be rubbing one another.

• Remove canes that are spindly and smaller in diameter than the size of a pencil.

• Prune to open the center of the plant to light and air circulation.

• Make your cuts at a 45 degree angle, about 1/4 inch above a bud that is facing toward the outside of the plant.

• Use sharp pruning shears to make sure cuts are clean, not ragged.

• Remove sucker growth below the graft union and those sprouting from the roots. The leaves will be different, so it’s easy to identify them.

Climbing roses should not be pruned for the first two years. They need time to grow long canes for flower production. After that time, remove old canes to encourage new canes to arise from the bottom of the plant. The finest blooms on climbers appear on canes that were produced the previous year.

Shrub and Antique roses require much less pruning. Most shrub roses will naturally obtain a rounded shrub shape without pruning. Pruning of these roses should be confined to shaping of the plant, removal of damaged branches and judicious trimming back to encourage growth. This can be done in spring after first bloom is complete.

On all roses, cutting flowers is a form of pruning. When gathering rose blooms, always leave at least two sets of leaves on the branch from which you cut the flower to insure plant vigor. When removing faded, spent flowers, cut only as far back as the first leaf with five leaflets.

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Rose Planting 101

Q. Dear Mike: My husband and I love your show! We also love roses and used to have 48 bushes. Now we’re starting over in a new home, where the soil is very rocky with a lot of clay. Can you provide some advice on planting in these new conditions?

    —Terri in Cumberland, MD

Mike: Love your show! I would like to transplant some roses this spring. In the past I have not been very successful with this; they don’t seem to grow much afterwards. In fact, several have not grown more then a foot since I moved them three years ago. I use transplant shock activators and water well. Hope you can help.

    —Michele in Mt Laurel, New Jersey

A. Well, your problem is obvious, Michele; you should have bought transplant shock PREVENTERS, not activators! (Sorry, but that was just too juicy to pass up.)

Anyway, roses are pretty easy to transplant; I move mine around as if they were annual flowers and the only ones I’ve lost were the ones I forgot to put back in the ground at the end of the day. And even some of them turned out to be revivable.

The big key to success is to plant them properly. But I was recently astonished (and a little chagrined) to see that we had not yet covered those basics in a Question of the Week. So let’s review the ten essential steps for rose planting success:

1. Soak bare roots in water for a few hours first. Bare root roses can be pretty dried out by the time they reach gardeners. So before you do anything else, place each bare root in a bucket of water for a while to re-hydrate the plant. This isn’t necessary for transplants (unless you don’t replant them right away, like SOME people I know) or roses purchased in containers.

2. Dig a wide hole in a spot that gets morning sun and good airflow. Because of their genetics (many ‘parent plants’ came from desert environments) some roses are highly disease-prone, especially when their leaves get wet. Placing them where they receive the very first dew-drying rays of the morning sun can mean the difference between rosaceous happiness and bad news black spot. Good air circulation is also important. If necessary, prune away overgrown trees and shrubs nearby. If you can only plant in a crowded area that only gets afternoon sun, grow hostas instead. Oh, and make the hole nice and wide so the roots can spread out—not deep; you want the stalk to be nice and high, not buried.

3. If you garden in clay, break up the soil at bottom of hole for drainage. Use a garden fork, pry-bar or small explosives to make sure the roots don’t sit in water.

4. Build a ‘cone’ of compost in the center of the hole. This provides some nice natural nutrients at the root zone, insures that the plant is elevated in the hole, and—most importantly—is also good luck, which we gardeners need more than normal people.

5. Spread the roots out overtop of the cone and plant the rose high, not low in the ground. Unless it’s raining, do this in the evening; NEVER first thing in the morning, so that the plant can acclimate a bit before its first day of broiling sun. The planted rose should look like an octopus sitting up on a rock; this is the proper way to plant, continues the good luck thing and looks cute as all get out. If you use wood mulch, take a picture; this will be the best it ever looks. And did I tell you to plant at the same height as in the container or higher? Good; are you listening yet?

6. Fill the hole back up with native soil. Follow the modern advice for planting trees and DON’T surround the rose’s roots with an island of rich soil. By filling the hole back up with what you have in the rest of the yard, you’ll encourage the plant to send its roots outward instead of staying nested in a little bubble of good stuff.

7. Cover the soil around the planted rose with a one-inch thick mulch of compost; don’t touch the stem and don’t use any kind of wood or bark mulch. The compost will prevent weeds, feed the plant, slowly improve your soil, and prevent the breeding of disease spores. No wood chips, ‘triple premium shredded bark’, root mulch or that God-awful dyed stuff! Diseases like black spot and mildew LOVE wood mulch; its like an incubator for them. And if you use rubber mulch you’re not allowed to listen to the show anymore.

8. Let a hose drip gently at the base of each plant for a few hours after planting; repeat three times a week if we get no rain. Never wet the plant when you water; always water at the base. Deep, slow waterings are ideal. Don’t water if we get lots of rain, but be prepared to soak the root zone this way all summer long during droughts. Most first year plant losses are due to UNDERwatering. But water normally (that’s one long deep watering once a week; see THIS PREVIOUS QUESTION OF THE WEEK FOR DETAILS) in subsequent years. Most established plants are lost to OVER watering.

9. Use no chemical plant food. Toxic chemical fertilizers like Miracle-Grow and Osmocote cause rapid weak growth that is very attractive to pests and disease. Instead:

10. Freshen up that compost with another inch every two months the rose is actively growing. If you’re in the mid-South or lower, make it two inches. And remove the old mulch and put a new inch of compost down once a month if disease is or has been a problem, it’s a wet year, and/or the plants are in a less than ideal location.

You’ll find lots more rose-disease-prevention info in THIS PREVIOUS QUESTION OF THE WEEK.

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