Rose Planting Guide: Step-by-Step Instructions for Growing Roses

The rose you purchase may not look like the plant you imagined in your garden. The rose plant you buy may come in a plastic bag with peat moss or sawdust and short, leafless stems. You may find it with a bare root that looks like a dead stick. These roses may look fragile, but they aren’t. A little extra work at planting time will result in a more healthy plant with more flowers.

Roses that are Good for You
Select a location with full sunlight. It is best to get at least six hours of sunlight. Some roses can grow in partial shade but they will bloom better if you place them in an area that receives sun throughout the day. This rule does not apply to roses that are grown in regions with hot summers and little water. Your roses will benefit from some afternoon shade in this situation.

The soil is not important to roses. However, because they feed heavily, a rich, loamy soil is best. The pH of the soil can range from slightly acidic (6.5-7.0) to neutral. If you have clay or poor soil, it is best to add several inches of organic material. You should ensure that the soil in which you are planting your roses has good drainage. Roses require regular, deep watering. However, their roots can rot in soil that is too wet.

Planting roses beneath trees is not recommended, due to the shade and possible damage caused by falling branches. Select a location that is protected from strong winds, which can harm the plant’s growth.

Last but not least, don’t crowd your rosebushes. The more air around the plants the less likely it is that they will get fungal diseases like black spot or powdery mildew. Planting roses far from other plants will also help to prevent soil competition.

What you’ll need
Equipment and Tools
Shovel or trowel
Work gloves
Bone meal (superphosphate)
New rose plant
Compost (if necessary)
Granular rose fertilizer
Materials for Rose Planting
The Spruce / Almar Creative
Planting the Hole
It is best to dig a hole slightly larger but equal in depth as the root ball of the rose. It will be between 15 and 18 inches deep, by 18 to 24 inch wide.

Save the soil that you removed to fill the hole after the rose bush is planted. This will help acclimatize the rose bush to its new environment. Do not feed the rose bush anything else when you plant it. You want to make sure the roots take hold before you start sending out new growth.

If the soil removed is of poor quality, it’s a good idea to mix in some compost or organic matter.

Preparing a hole to plant

Prepare the Rose
Remove the container if your rose was in one. Loosen the roots so that they can spread out when planted. You can easily remove the plant from the pot by gripping the plant at the base with gloves and inverting it.

Unpack the roots of your rose and examine them. Cut off any soft or broken roots. To prevent them from drying out, soak the roots in water for 12 hours prior to planting.

If you’re transplanting a large rose, trim the canes to between 6 and 8 inches. The rose bush will be able to focus more energy on its roots and less on the top growth. It is best to transplant roses in the early spring before new growth starts.

Place the rose into the hole

Plant a Rose
Make a mound using the soil removed and bone meal in the middle of the hole for bareroot roses. The mound should be high enough that the knobby graft is just below the soil line when the rose bush is placed on top. Place the rootball into the hole for container-grown roses. Make sure that the graft union lies slightly below the soil level. The graft should be fully buried about 1 to 2 inch underground when the plant settles.

Temperature Tip
Plant roses between 40-60 degrees so that the plant has time to establish and develop strong roots before the summer heat arrives. Plant roses only after the possibility of freezing temperatures has passed.

Spread the roots along the sides of the mound for bareroot roses. Fill in the hole as evenly as possible with soil and superphosphate. Fill the hole with soil for container-grown roses. Separate the root ball gently in the planting holes. When the soil is almost filled, water it to settle the soil. Continue filling in the hole, and pat gently the soil over the root zone.

Place the rose in the ground
Apply Mulch and Water
Apply mulch to the base of the rose and water deeply. To establish your rose, water it every other day. This is especially important in dry weather. When the new growth starts, you will know that your rose plant has become accustomed.

Mulch around a rose bush
How to Care for your Rose
Continue to water the rose each week to promote a deep root structure. It is important to feed it granular fertilizer, mixed with soil, when the leaves start to appear in the spring. Also after each blooming flush or every four to six week during the growing season. Six weeks before the first frost, stop feeding your rose. Continue watering it until the ground freezes. If you live in a frost-free area, continue to water your roses all winter.