Planting Roses

How to Plant Rose Bushes

planting roses pink roseMy Morning Blush Rose

Ready to start planting Roses in your rose garden? Follow these tips for planting your bare root, or container roses. This guide for planting your roses will help you get started.

Make sure the rose bush you want to plant will thrive in your planting zone. There is simply no point trying to grow a plant that will not survive (and thrive) in your climate zone!


Not sure what zone you're in? Check here and Enter your zip code to find your zone.

Roses When to Plant

Follow these garden planting tips,for planting a garden of roses. The best time to plant roses depends on where you live. In cold Northern climates VERY early spring is best. In the south, planting roses in winter, between mid December and mid February is recommended.

Roses can be planted at any time of the year, but the earlier the better, because it allows the bush to become established before winter.

Steps to Planting Rose Bushes
in Your Garden

  •  Before Planting Roses, inspect and test your soil, and improve it.

Find out what is the best soil for Roses

Once you have your spot chosen to plant your roses, prepare the bed in advance.

The best way to prepare the bed for planting is with a Rotto Tiller!

I've had mine for several years now, and I can honestly say they are the best!! My hubby has a big one that he does our (very large) vegetable garden with every year, but I wanted one I could handle. So, I ordered a small one, and I LOVE it!! But if you don't have a tiller, you can always dig the bed by hand with a shovel.

  • When you receive your plants by mail-order, plant as soon as you get them. If this is not possible, and there will be a long delay, unpack the roses and bury them in a trench. Water the trench to keep them moist.

  • Make sure you have good drainage in the bed. If you are not sure, dig the planting hole and fill it with water. The water should be drained within one hour.

If not you will have to amend the soil. When planting in soil that does not drain well, the roots drown and rot.

  • Amend the soil by mixing in organic material, or grow in a raised bed to ensure adequate drainage.
  •  When planting bare root roses, soak the rose canes in a pail of tepid water for up to 24 hrs.

Carry this pail out to the garden and keep the bush in it until you plant it!

If the bush is exposed to excess wind, the roots will dry out , and your rose will not do well!

**The single most important factor when planting roses....

  • If you want big beautiful rose bushes... is digging a really BIG hole.

  No matter what size the plant is when you plant it, the planting hole should be 24 inches wide by 24 inches deep!

I know this seems really big, but by loosening up this soil, the new feeder roots have plenty of room to grow, thus resulting in a beautiful bush!

Tips for Planting a Garden of Roses : Fertilizing

The only Rose fertilizer you need at planting time is to mix 1/3 peat moss or compost, or a bit of both,with the top 2/3 of soil from the hole. The soil from the bottom is generally not very fertile,so discard it.

How to Fertilize when planting roses

To get the bush off to a good start, and help the roses grow to their best, I always mix a cup of bone meal with a quarter cup of superphosphate, and add that to the planting hole, but no other fertilizer.

Putting a layer of rotted cow or horse manure on the bottom of the hole is good also, but do not put it up near the roots of the plant. (It could burn them)

When the manure is on the bottom of the hole, the roots won't reach it for a year, by that time it will be aged and ready to give a boost to your new plant!

Planting Roses that are Bare Root

How do you plant roses that are bare root?

  • Start by cutting off any broken roots, or any that are so long as to coil around in the planting hole. Fill the bottom of the hole with a mound of soil, shaped up like a cone.
  • Hold the bush firmly in place over the mound of soil.
  • Spread the roots of the rosebush down over this cone so that the plant's bud union is about an inch or so below ground level. (if you live in zones 4 or 5.) Farther south you can plant it a bit higher.
  • Add more soil, covering the roots with 5 or so inches of soil. Step into the hole and carefully firm the soil down around the plant with your feet. This will remove any air spaces around the roots.
  • With a gentle flow from your garden hose, fill the hole with water until the water begins to trickle over the side. When the water has subsided, fill the hole to the top with additional soil.
  • Water slowly again.
  • Build a mound of soil around the bud union to a height of 8 inches. This will protect the plant from drying sun and wind until growth begins.

The soil mound should remain until new growth begins on the plant. When buds are a quarter of an inch in length, gently remove the mound. Be sure to give your rose bush plenty of water.

To test the ground to see if you need to water or not, push your finger down into the ground into the soil as far as you can,if it is dry down there, the roots need water!

The best way to water is to soak the ground around the plant. A good soaking of water is best. A light sprinkle of water is not good for the plant.Wetting the ground around the plant does nothing! Deep watering forces the roots to grow down deeper searching for water.

Watering in the morning is best, but if not possible, any time is better than not watering at all!!

More Garden Hints and Tips: Mulching

The most effective way to conserve moisture after planting is to apply a mulch on top of the soil to a thickness of 3-4 inches. Mulch is good for many reasons:

  • It acts as an insulation against the rays of the sun- keeping the soil 10-20 degrees cooler.

(roses like a cooler soil, they grow better)

  • It discourages weeds from growing
  • Conserves Moisture
  • Gives your garden a more finished, picture book look
  • At the end of the season, it can be worked into the soil to enrich it further

Any organic matter can be used for mulch. Shredded bark, Leaves, Pine Needles, Wood chips. Most coarse organic matter will do. For established rose plants, the best garden mulch is a mixture of straw and rotted cow manure, which will also act as a fertilizer.

Planting Roses that are Potted

When planting the roses that are potted, it is not necessary to build a mound or cone, as you would when planting bare root roses.

To plant a potted rose bush:

Dig your VERY BIG hole, following the above instructions,remove the plant from its container, trying not to disturb the cylinder of soil around the bush.

Plant the potted rose at the same level that the bush was previously growing.

Water well! Don't underestimate the mature size of your new rose bush!

It may look small when you get it, but it won't stay that way for long.

Don't crowd the plants by planting them closer than they should be.

Don't expect to much from your rose bush the first year, give it a couple of seasons, and you'll be amazed at what it will grow into if you give it the proper care!


These handy Plant Marker Labels icon will help you to identify the rose long after you've planted it, and forgotten the name!

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