For those who love the beauty and fragrance of roses but lack a green thumb, fear not!
Armed with a few tools and a little knowledge, you learn how to plant roses like a pro.
To plant your roses you will need… rose plants, a pair of gloves, compost or peat moss, bone meal, shovel, small hand rake, a pH test kit, water and mulch.
When it comes to roses, choice abounds. Rose varieties include shrub and landscape, floribunda, climber, miniature, hybrid tea, grandiflora and tree.
To achieve beautiful landscaping that resembles groundcover, choose shrub roses. Hybrid tea and floribunda produce large fragrant blooms, but differ in the number of blooms produced.
The hybrid tea plant yields one blossom per stem while the floribunda can produce up to 15 blossoms per stem.
If you are new to rose planting, visit your local nursery or garden center for advice. The gardening experts at the nursery will help you select the best type of plant for your soil, climate, and intended purpose.
They can also suggest special hybrid rose types cultivated specifically for your area.
When to Plant
Roses love warm weather. The best time to plant potted roses is after the last frost and before the weather turns hot. Transplanting and summer heat are sources of stress for potted roses.
Planting early allows the roses to recover from the stress of transplanting before being forced to tackle the summer heat.
Plant bare root roses in March or early April. In some locations, planting in late winter is acceptable.
If you live in an area with heavy rainfall, wait for the soil to dry out before planting.
Choose Your Site
Help your roses thrive by planting them in areas that get at least 6 hours of sun a day. Choose a spot with good air circulation to prevent excess moisture buildup and disease.
Avoid high wind areas since too much wind can damage delicate plants. If you live where high winds prevail, try planting next to a wall or fence.
Choose a spot without eves, gutters and overhangs to prevent damage from falling water or ice.
Roses are snobs when it comes to sharing space, and they hate being crowded. Some rose varieties will tolerate non-invasive plant species; however, others will not.
Cater to your roses by giving each plant at least 2 or 3-feet of space.
Prepare the Soil
To grow, roses need nutrient rich soil. If your soil is hard, replace it with crumbly soil called loam. Or, mix your existing soil with loam.
If you are replacing a rosebush with a new one, completely remove the old soil and replace it with fresh loam.
Before you plant your roses, check the pH level of the soil. Test kits are inexpensive and available where gardening plants and supplies are sold. Roses prefer a soil pH level that is 5.5 to 7.0.
Test the drainage capacity of the area by digging a hole and filling it with water. The water should drain from the hole in about three hours. If not, you will need to till the ground or opt for a raised bed option.
Dig the Holes
Roses need a comfortable and spacious home to grow. For potted plants, dig a hole that is a little deeper and wider than the pot. Put the pot, plant and all, into the hole to check for size.
The crown, which is the area where the plant grows above ground, should be just a little lower than the top of the hole. If the hole is too deep, add more soil and compost.
If the hole is too shallow, use your shovel or hand rake to make it deeper.
For bare root roses, dig a hole that is about 15 inches deep and 20 inches wide. Build a mound at the bottom of the hole to support the plant.
The hole should be a little deeper in you live in an area where the temperature falls below zero degrees in the winter.
Loosen the dirt on the sides and bottom of the hole with a hand rake or your fingers to make it easy for the roots to spread and grow. Mix the soil or soil and loam combination with compost or peat moss and a handful of bone meal.
Peat moss is best if your soil is sandy. Compost and peat moss contain organic ingredients and the bone meal stimulates bloom production.
Prepare the Plants
Water potted plants to get them ready for the move. Add water until you see it begin to drain from the bottom of the pot. Carefully remove damaged leaves, stems and buds. Soak bare root plants in a bucket of water overnight.
Ready, Set, Plant!
Roses appreciate gentle hands, especially during the planting process. For potted roses, loosen the pot by squeezing and pressing in with your hands.
If this fails to loosen the plant completely, run a smooth-edged butter knife along the inside of the pot.
Remove the plant from the container. Use your fingers to loosen a tightly packed rootball. Be careful not to break off too many roots as you work. Alternatively, you can use a knife to score the rootball.
Make three cuts around the ball, from top to bottom, about ½-inch deep. When the roots are loose, gently place the plant in the center of the hole.
Hold the plant with one hand to keep it steady as you work. Fill the hole with soil until it is halfway full and then water. Allow the water to drain before filling the rest of the hole with soil.
When full, use your hands to pack the soil. The goal is to remove the air pockets without packing the soil so tight it inhibits circulation.
For bare root plants, place the plant on the center of the mound at the bottom of the hole and use the same process for filling the hole with soil and water.
Finish your rose planting exercise by making a mulch basin around the bottom of the plant. The mulch basin helps keep the water where you intended so the roots of your plant stay moist.
Water generously. If the plant sinks a little, use your hands to wiggle it back in place. Pat the soil around the base again to help hold the plant steady.
Learning how to plant roses is the first step; learning to care for them is equally important. Like any living organism, roses need the right amount of nutrients to survive and thrive.
Choose organic fertilizers with the numbers 5-5-5 on the label. The numbers stand for the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium contained in the fertilizer.
Fertilizers with higher nutrient content can damage or burn your roses.
Thirsty roses are unhealthy roses, and so are drenched roses. Protect your delicate blooms by ensuing they get the right amount of water on a consistent basis.
Keep the soil around the bushes moist but not overly soggy. Do not to let the soil completely dry out and never allow standing water. A lack of water can kill a plant; standing water will cause root rot.
Keep rain from pooling around the base of your plants by keeping the soil tilled so that it drains well.
Ideally, roses need about one gallon of water each week. Eliminate the uncertainty of when and how much to water with a simple finger test.
Insert a finger into the soil at the base of the plant about 2-inches deep. If the soil is dry, add water. Give your roses a head start by watering them in the morning before the sun heats up the day.
Water slowly so that the water seeps deep into the soil.
Learning how to plant roses is fun. Keep the joy coming all season long with these simple tips.
- If gardening falls far down on your ‘to-do’ list, choose a rose variety that is disease resistant and low maintenance.
- Plant your roses so that the prettiest side of the bush is the most visible.
- Use a soaker hose to water slowly and to keep the top of your roses dry. Getting water on the upper part of the plant can cause black spot.
How to grow roses from seeds?
You’re right. I need to get on that. We’ll get something out about that. Thanks for the reminder.
PATTI LAW POGGI says
I just love reading all the questions from your fans Mike, but I always want to know what the answers are! Surely you or Amber don’t have time to answer each and every one, so who does and where can I read them? When you press “reply” it’s just blank. Is that for other readers to reply” I’m confused.
John jeffords says
when to propagate roses by cuttings what time of year is best
I’d say the ideal time is June through August when the wood is fairly soft. Use one of these techniques. http://www.freeplants.com/homemade-plant-propagation.htm
Very helpful article.
I am testing growing a hybrid tea rose in a large planter on my verandah. I adore fragrance and intend using the blossoms to make rose water and other concotions – as well as enjoying the beauty and fragrance of the blossoms for themselves.
I have positioned the planter on the south-eastern corner (southern hemisphere) where, although it does not get full sun, it receives strong sun for several hours every morning, followed by dappled sun over several more hours, and finally shade from the scorching western sun (summer and winter). The rose also receives some rain on that corner. My main consideration in choosing to pot the rose and its location on the verandah is to protect it from excessive rains and flooding, and to provide good drainage. As I live in the tropics, excessive heat and rain in the summer would probably kill the plant if planted in the open garden. My garden usually receives minor flooding yearly and my weather station recorded 60deg C (140deg F)one day in February (summer)! It is currently winter with temperatues in the mid 20s (low 70s) to around 30deg (86deg) by day. As you can see, the open garden is not ideally situated to rose plantings. As for strong winds, well we get cyclones, need I say more. Portability of the rose is essential unless I want it to end up in someone else’s backyard!
Instead, my plan is to strike cuttings from the ‘parent’ rose on the verandah and plant these in the garden to see if they survive the summer, and if so, in which spots they will grow. I will also be able to replace them should they be ‘pruned’ by the next cyclone. I went through cyclone Yasi a couple of years back, when it was safe to go outside and survey the damage I found a large bougainvillea had been torn out of the ground with its leaves and bark stripped from the canes, all the forming fruit from my citrus trees had blown away and a crop of someone else’s avocadoes ended up in my yard along with the metal roof of someone else’s garden shed. I think that may be a bit too windy for a rose.
I was quite excited when I noticed the first bud forming. Alas, before it reached maturity an insect ate it. Then a few weeks ago I observed another bud. I kept a close watch on that one, and each day I would notice it swelling until the beautiful scarlet of the petals started to show through. Each morning I would inspect it, eagerly anticipating its beauty and fragrance. I watered the rose one Saturday evening, then the Sunday morning returned to inspect it. It was gone. The whole bud cut off at the stem. Something ate it overnight. I still don’t know what the creature was, but we get lots of wildlife from possoms and bandicoots to bats, goannas and snakes. Oh well, I will just have to wait for the next blossom.
I love your site. I read it and save your articles. My problem is I fight buttercups. I am 73 almost 74 and my life is spent digging out buttercups. I know you have to get the crown. which is an every day fight with me. I love my Flags butwhen it rains for a couple of months on end by the time I get to my flag bed it looks like a medow. I pull and dig and never seem to get rid of buttercups they grow everywhere in my yard.
I know they grow from seeds that mayhave been there 7 years and then way back from that. Help
Chick weed is another thing I would love to get rid of. I pull and hoe all the time.
Love your articles Have a grt day.
Donna lee says
God Bless Mike! You are GREAT in all that you do.I much appreciate all your expertise.In my retirement from nursing of 38 years-I’m having a great time reinventing me! I’M selling my house(too much work with no help.Good help is hard to find.I’ve been fortunate to use space on my daughters property.I couldn’t be without my garden.With the outreach ministry &a new apartment & new office I’ve been buzy.But I do apologize not replying to your emails more in depth. Keep up the good work !!
eml perera says
thank you for rose gardenng letter which i request long time.
Very use full
I have had a rose bush for about 5 years now. It was blooming and lush. Then several days later there were no leaves or blooms. What could do that in about a 2 day time frame? Thanx for all your emails!
Japanese Beetles. They’ll eat the leaves right off. The flowers? They either fell off or possibly a deer?
I didn’t even think about Jap. Beetles. What can I do to kill them or direct them away from my rose?
Thx so much!
John Reed says
Thanks Mike, I love my roses though I have few. My favorite is my Chrysler Imperial with it’s wonderful aroma. All the best !!!