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Planting Your Bare Root & Container Rose Types

Updated on January 13, 2012


Rose Planting Depth In Warmer Zones
Rose Planting Depth In Warmer Zones
Rose Planting Depth In Cooler Zones
Rose Planting Depth In Cooler Zones



You've found the perfect location and amended your soil. Now it's time to plant your roses!

Don't worry. This is the easiest step of all.

It doesn't take a lot of time and there are not a lot of rules to follow.

Let's begin by defining the two types of roses to be discussed: Bare root and container roses.

INITIAL TIP: The best time to plant your roses is after the last killing frost. Here in the Midwest, Mid April is usually good.

The Fruit Of Your Labor!
The Fruit Of Your Labor!


Bare root roses are dormant when shipped with no new growth of any kind. Their canes should be established, not moldy, and at least 3/8" in diameter. A good rule of thumb (no pun intended) is to look for at least 3-4 healthy canes when buying any bare root rose.

General Tip: Never purchase a bare root rose with ANY signs of new growth.

After receiving your bare root rose, inspect it for health and then soak it in water for no longer than 24 hours. You can add a root stimulator solution if you'd like but it's not mandatory. If you do, just follow the directions on the label for strength.

And now, here are your planting steps.

  • Determine planting depth according to hardiness zone (see graphics).
  • Form a cone-shaped mound of soil at the bottom of the planting hole for the roots to rest on.
  • Gently place the bare roots over the top of the soil cone being careful to keep the bud union at proper height according to the respective hardiness zone.
  • Backfill the planting hole around the entire root zone.
  • Add a couple of tablespoons of bone meal and work into the soil.
  • Fill the hole with water and allow draining.
  • Backfill again and firmly pack the soil around the rose's base.
  • Build up a perimeter of fresh dirt 24" around the base of the newly-planted rose.
  • Mulch to a depth of 2".

AND... the most important step of all for planting bare root roses is...

Completely cover all canes with dirt, mulch, straw, or similar organic material for a minimum of two weeks after planting. Then water to keep moist EVERY DAY!

This is to allow the new roots to become established in their new environment without the plant drying out. If you allow any part of your newly-planted rose to dry out, you risk losing it. Be very wise with this step!


  • WARMER ZONES: 8-11


US Plant Hardiness Zones:    Source:
US Plant Hardiness Zones: Source:



True to their name, container roses are purchased already established in containers or pots. They typically show plenty of leafy new growth, sometimes display buds, and are often seen blooming. (I do not recommend buying a container rose with a large amount of new growth however). Why? Because the roots will have to support all this growth while becoming established in the ground. This adds stress to your new rose plant. And roses, like people, don't like stress.

New growth is fine. A bush full of blooms is a little much; to plant that is.

Planting container roses is similar to bare root roses; just a bit simpler. Follow these steps to success.

  • Remove the container by turning the plant upside down with a gentle nudge.
  • Gently dislodge any root-bound roots if possible with your fingers.
  • Determine the planting depth using the same method previously explained.
  • Place the rose in the hole and fill in with soil.
  • Water in completely.
  • Firmly pack down the soil and water again.
  • Build up a soil basin 24" in diameter.
  • Mulch to a depth of 2".
  • Similar to bare root roses, cover the bush, growth and all, with a light organic material and keep moist for at least 2 weeks.


After two weeks, your new roses should have a firm grip in their new home. All you do now is tenderly remove the organic material you religiously tended to for a fortnight and begin the journey to bouquets splendor.

Final Tip: Make sure when removing the protective dirt, mulch, etc. that you don't break off any new growth. A gentle spraying with a garden hose works fairly well.

Continue to monitor and water your new rose plant for several weeks. It may take a full season to become totally established so an extra dose of caution will never hurt.

My upcoming hub topics will focus on maintenance and general enjoyment.

Happy Roses!


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    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      thanks Rob for sharing this hub with myself and others

      I really did appreciate the information nad the proper way

      to planting. thanks again.

      Voted up.

    • countrywomen profile image

      countrywomen 9 years ago from Washington, USA

      A very good hub. I love roses and in my dream house I would like to plant plenty of these rose plants. Btw what do you do in winter with your plants? Do you move the pots indoors and then have the artificial sunlight bulbs on them?

    • Rob Jundt profile image

      Rob Jundt 9 years ago from Midwest USA


      Thanks for your comment. If you've had these in pots for a while, you might try putting them in larger ones. The roots are probably root bound and need more room to grow to provide the extra nutrients the plant needs. Transplanting to a larger pot is simple. Just remove from the old pot, gently separate as many roots as possible (It'll probably look like a ball of string with dirt), and put into a larger pot with fresh soil. If the rose is going to stay indoors you can use a high quality potting soil for starters. Good luck and thanks for reading my hub.

    • Karen Ellis profile image

      Karen Ellis 9 years ago from Central Oregon

      Hope you don't mind, I copied your article for later use. I have two baby rose plants in containers, that my husband gave me. They are sitting in a western window until we sell our house (who knows how long that could be - but hopfully this year it will happen). Anyway, will plant them outside once we are in a new house. They weren't doing so well for a while, but now that I'm talking to them every couple of days, they've really perked up.

      Great article.