red roses
Plants

A beginners’ guide to growing roses

1. Start with the roots

You can purchase roses already potted in soil or as dormant bare-root plants. Each type has its benefits:

  • Container roses: Container roses are great for novice gardeners because they’re easy to plant and establish quickly. They can also be purchased at local nurseries throughout the growing season. This allows you to plant them when climate conditions are ideal— preferably a cool and cloudy day.
  • Bare-root roses: One of the advantages of bare-root roses is the greater selection of varieties available. Plus, they are economical and can be ordered online. However, unlike container roses, bare-root plants need to have their roots soaked overnight in water before planting. Also, the roots should be kept moist for the first few months after planting.

2. Choose your roses wisely

There are numerous classes of roses, ranging from micro-miniatures to grandifloras, and from groundcovers to climbing roses, with some classes containing hundreds of varieties. While it may be tempting to fill your rose garden with a wide assortment, you are likely to end up with a disorderly array and too many plants for space. A few well-chosen varieties will give you more satisfaction than dozens of mismatched plants that don’t work in harmony.

3. Find the right site

For the best show of flowers and the healthiest plants, rose bushes should receive six to eight hours of sunlight daily. They should also be planted in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. In especially hot climates, roses do best when they are protected from the hot afternoon sun. In cold climates, planting a rose bush next to a south- or west-facing fence or wall can help minimize winter freeze damage.

4. Get the timing right

Roses are best planted in the spring (after the last frost) or in fall (at least six weeks before your average first frost). Planting early enough in fall gives the roots enough time to get established before the plants go dormant over the winter.

Bare-root roses are typically available only in early spring and should be planted soon after you bring them home. Roses purchased in containers give you more flexibility in planting time.

5. Plant properly

Planting your bare-root or container roses properly will ensure they get off to a good start.

The planting hole needs to be deep enough and wide enough to accommodate the plant’s roots. The area needs to have good drainage since roses don’t like wet feet.
Mix a generous amount of garden compost, peat moss, or other organic matter with the soil that was removed from the planting hole. Use some of this mixture at the bottom of the planting hole and place the rose bush in the hole.
The plant’s crown should be at ground level in mild climates and 2 to 3 inches below ground level for cold climates.
Fill the hole partially with the soil mixture and add slow-release fertilizer.
Water thoroughly, and then finish filling the hole with the remaining soil.
Water again, then mound loose soil around the canes to protect the rose while it acclimates to its new site.
If you’re planting several rose bushes together, space them at least 3 feet apart to allow ample growing room as they mature.

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