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How to Plant Bare Root Roses

Updated on November 22, 2012

Planting Bare Root Roses

Bare root roses are roses that are shipped, sold or given away without any soil around the roots and are usually shipped dormant. Bare root roses need a little extra care when planting to insure they get the best start.

When bare root roses arrive they need to be tended to immediately to insure they get the proper care that they have been longing for during shipment. Here you will find step-by-step instructions on how to successfully plant bare-root roses.

What Are Bare Root Roses?

How Bare Roses are Shipped...

Since there are different methods for shipping roses, there are a few different ways to plant them. Some bare root roses are shipped dormant while others are shipped during their active growing seasons.

Some bare root roses are shipped with nothing but paper or plastic wrapping around their roots. Others are shipped with a gel, mulch or other soilless material on their roots with a wrapping or bag to hold it in.

The First Thing You Should Do

Inspect Your Roses

As soon as you receive a bare root rose the first thing you should always do is immediately remove any packaging. Insure that you have disease-free roses that will be healthy enough to in your rose landscape.

Once you have inspected your rose place your bare root rose in a container of fresh water and soak for a few hours or until you can get it planted. Do not soak it any longer than 24 hours as it can cause root rot.

bare root rose
bare root rose

Preparing the Site to Plant Your Bare Root Rose

Prepare the Perfect Spot for Your New Rose

While your bare root roses are soaking begin preparing your planting site. Start by digging a hole that is at least two times the width of the root ball and at least 20-25 inches deep.

Using either the original soil or potting soil, create a 'mound' in the bottom of the hole. The mound should be cone shaped with the point sticking up. This will create an area for you to sit your rose on so that the roots can flow down each side of the mound.

Image Source

Trim the Roots to Promote New Growth

After you have prepared your hole, trim back any broken or damaged roots on your new rose. Attempt to untangle the roots so that they hang down and can be placed around the mound you created in the hole.

If there are several long roots you can trim them back to 12 to 15 inches to make it easier to plant and minimize damage.

Other Resources for Growing Roses

Here are a few of my favorite rose gardening books.

Planting Bare Root Roses

How to Plant Bare Root Roses

Place the bare root rose into the hole keeping the crown or bud union even with ground level. Spread the roots evenly throughout the hole and around the mound. Avoid tangled, folded roots as they may be damaged by the heavy layers of soil.

Once the rose is in place backfill the hole using the soil you originally removed from the hole or fill it in with potting soil. Either is fine though potting soil will allow for better nutrients if you have poor soil. Insure that whichever method you choose is well-draining and does not hold water.

Insure there are no air pockets by gently firming the soil as you fill the hole in. Water your new rose thoroughly and allow it to drain. Continue watering daily for a few weeks until it is well established.

Image Source: University of Illinois

Angel Face Floribunda - One of My Own Bare Root Roses

bare root floribunda rose
bare root floribunda rose

Angel Face is one of my favorite roses in my rose garden. It, too, was a bare root rose. It amazes me at how many people will not purchase a bare root rose because they are afraid there is something wrong with it.

A Word of Advice for Purchasing Bare Root Roses

What to Look for...

When purchasing a bare root rose at a local garden center the roots are usually wrapped in plastic sleeve. The canes are usually cut back to 3 to 5 of the biggest stems and everything else is cut of. You may also notice a thick, white, waxy coating. This is normal. They have been dipped in wax to prevent damage from frost. This will need to be rinsed with warm water when you get it home.

When choosing a bare root rose that you can see and touch prior to purchase always look for green canes and any signs of new growth. Depending on the time of year and how long they have been set out they may not have any new stems yet but you should be able to see nodes starting to form. Avoid any yellow, black or brown stems as this may be a sign of disease or rot.

When purchasing a bare root rose from a catalog or website always research their reputation. Keep in mind that most people don't come back to give feedback on great purchases where as an angry customer always will. 100 negatives and 1 positive may not always be reliable considering that they could have sold 100,000 roses. Just look around and see what type of reputation they have, what the biggest complaints are and how they were handled.

Always check the return policy for items that have been shipped. While most companies won't guarantee a rose once it has been planted since it could have been the gardeners fault, many will still guarantee plants during shipping.

A Few Roses Available Online that Would Be Shipped Bare Root

Here are a few examples of roses on Amazon.com that would be shipped bare root. Always assume that roses are shipped bare root unless they state otherwise. They will usually stated that they are 'potted'.

I have heard of several people refusing to purchase bare root roses because they think there is something wrong with them or that they won't produce like a full size bush. I personally only grow bare root roses because I can get them at a fraction of the cost of a bush that has already but on a ton of new growth. That same new growth that caused others to purchase the rose can quickly be damaged during frosts if it is still early spring.

What Are Your Thoughts on Purchasing Bare Root Roses?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      great price but slow to establish,Definitely do it again!