Plant a Bare-Root Rose in 12 Easy Steps.
While it might seem counterintuitive to purchase a rose that isn’t potted in soil, purchasing a bare-root rose is a great option and my preferred method here on the flower farm. Purchasing bare-root provides many advantages to container-grown roses, the least of which is cost. A bare-root rose can cost 30-50% less than container-grown roses of the same size because there is no labour required for potting them up. They also weigh significantly less and therefore don’t cost as much to ship. All savings that get passed along to the customer.
Other advantages include ease of handling (again, because of the weight) and better growth performance.
It is very easy for one person to plant a bare-root rose that might normally require a second person to help lift and remove the container of a container-grown plant of the same size.
Bare-root roses generally have an easier time getting quickly established in their new home as opposed to their container-grown counterparts. The bare-root roses will not have to transition from the soil that is in the container to the native soil in your yard. They are only available in the winter/early spring which allows them to be planted while they are still dormant. This means that a bare-root rose gains weeks of root growth that a container-grown plant will lack. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, a bare-root rose ensures that you will be able to see the roots and correct any issues before properly planting into the prepared hole. Container-grown roses lack this option unless you take the time to do a thorough root-washing to remove all of the soil prior to planting (always a good idea but more on that in another post).
So without further adieu, here is a how-to for planting bare-root roses.
1. Un-package the roses and hydrate as soon as they arrive. Hydration can occur in buckets or kiddie pools. Place the roses right-side up into the selected vessel and add water. Water height must completely cover the roots but can also cover the canes. Hydration can occur up to 1 day prior to planting but should occur for a minimum of 8 hours.
2. The tops of the rose canes were originally cut with a saw in the field prior to being dug up. It’s imperative that these ragged cuts are removed. Give each cane a fresh cut by making a 45 degree angled cut ½” above an outward-facing bud eye. Prune as high up on the cane as possible as a light pruning equals more blooms.
3. Roots will often be broken in transit. Prune off any dead or damaged roots just above the damaged area.
4. Dig holes for roses 18” wide by 18” deep.
5. Form a cone shape (volcano) in the bottom center of the hole using the removed soil. Lay down a stick spanning across the hole and place the rose roots on top of the cone, splaying the roots around the cone. Judge the height of the cone to ensure that the crown of the rose is 2” higher than the ground using the stick as a measuring tool. Adjust the height of the soil cone as required to attain this desired planting height.
6. Once again, ensure that the roots are spread out over the soil cone. Rotate the rose in the hole to ensure that all of the bud eyes and the bud union face towards the path of the sun (south). Doing so ensures maximum basal cane growth.
7. Fill the hole with the native soil that you removed from the hole, firming gently to ensure roots have good soil contact.
8. Once hole is completely filled, make a basin around the rose for water retention.
9. Pour a bucket of water into the basin to settle the soil. After the water has drained, add additional soil as required to fill in any settling that may have occurred. Maintain a basin around the rose for future water capture.
10. Lay dripline irrigation at base of rose.
11. Mulch up and around the rose canes to keep them hydrated until the first growth begins.
12. Once first growth is seen on the canes, mulch should be swept off of the canes. Mulch should be placed over the soil surrounding the rose for water retention and weed suppression.
Now step back and admire a well-planted rose that will provide you with years of beauty and fragrance!