The Ultimate Guide: How to Plant a Bare Root Rose

Imagine the beauty and fragrance of a blooming rose garden in your own backyard. The vibrant colors, the delicate petals, and the sweet aroma that fills the air. Planting bare root roses yourself can turn this dream into a reality. In this comprehensive guide on how to plant a bare root rose, we will walk you through the process of planting and caring for your own bare root roses, ensuring a thriving garden for years to come. Find more roses and rose plant ideas at Gardeners Dream.

how to plant a bare root rose

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the benefits of bare root roses before planting.
  • Choose a suitable spot and prepare the soil for optimal growth.
  • Follow watering, mulching, fertilizing and pruning guidelines to ensure successful maintenance of your rose.

Understanding Bare Root Roses

Bare root roses, a type of bare root plants, including bare root shrub and bush roses, are very special. They can be dug up during the winter when they don’t require much energy and care. These new roses offer several advantages, such as a wider selection, adaptability to different environmental conditions, and a decreased risk of late frost damage. In fact, many gardeners prefer planting bare rooted roses for these benefits, making bare roots a popular choice. As they stand bare roots, they are easy to transport and plant.

The bare root season typically commences from November to late February. One of the main benefits of bare root roses is their cost-effectiveness when it comes to shipping. Without the need for soil, these roses can be transported long distances, making them more accessible than their potted counterparts, such as container-grown roses.

Preparing for Planting

A few vital steps of preparation can significantly influence the growth of your bare root roses. The best time to plant, soil preparation, and choosing the right spot for planting your roses will be covered next.

Best Time to Plant

The ideal planting season for bare root roses is crucial to guarantee their successful growth and establishment. Planting during the dormant season offers several benefits, such as allowing time to prepare for the upcoming growing season and providing cost savings. The optimal climatic conditions for planting bare root roses are late autumn at leaf fall, late winter to early spring before growth resumes, and when the roses are dormant.

Considering the local climate is a necessary factor in determining the best planting time for your roses, as the perfect timing may change according to your area’s specific climate and light levels. Not adhering to the suggested planting time can lead to a lower success rate, adverse effects on growth, and disappointing outcomes.

Soil Preparation

The soil preparation for your roses plays a major role in their optimal growth and establishment. Roses can thrive in various soil types, including:

  • Sandy soil
  • Chalky soil
  • Clay soil
  • Loam soil

The optimal pH for roses is approximately 6.5, which is neutral to slightly acidic.

To prepare the soil for planting, it is recommended to dig the soil well in advance and incorporate any necessary additions at this stage.

Selecting the Perfect Spot

Choosing the appropriate location for your rose significantly influences its success. Factors to consider when selecting the ideal location for planting bare root roses include sunlight, space, and soil quality.

The most suitable soil quality for planting bare root roses involves a mixture of well-rotted manure or compost mixed with the soil at the base of the hole, along with the integration of soil improver with the soil removed from the hole. To ensure sufficient space for the roots to spread out, it is recommended that the hole for planting bare root roses be 12-18 inches deep and 2 feet wide.

Planting Process: Step-by-Step Guide

With the soil prepared and the spot chosen, the next step is to plant a bare root rose. The process of planting will be guided through the following sections, including hydrating the roots, digging the planting hole, and positioning the rose and graft union.

Hydrating the Roots

Before planting your bare root roses, soaking their roots in water is a key step to guarantee correct hydration. The recommended duration for soaking bare root roses is a minimum of 1 to 6 hours for optimal hydration. The roots of your bare root roses should feel moist. If they appear dry, it is essential to re-hydrate them. Submerge them for up to 2 hours in a bucket of water..

Over-hydrating bare root roses can be detrimental, so it’s crucial to limit their soaking time to a maximum of two hours.

Digging the Planting Hole

To create the best environment for your rose, digging a planting hole that is about 12 to 18 inches deep and 18 to 24 inches wide is a necessary step. This size allows enough space for the roots to extend and become established properly.

To prepare the planting hole, follow these steps:

  1. Dig a hole using a spade, making sure it is the recommended size.
  2. Break the soil at the base of the hole.
  3. Add two shovelfuls of composted manure or compost to the hole.

Positioning the Rose and Graft Union

To correctly position the rose in the planting hole, ensure the graft union is at the right level for healthy growth. The graft union is a very important part of the canes. It is enlarged and located at the base of the canes, where the rose variety is grafted onto a stock plant. It is recommended that the graft point (union) be planted approximately an inch below soil level.

To determine the appropriate planting depth, place a bamboo cane horizontally across the top of the hole, ensuring the graft union is situated just below the bamboo cane.

Caring for Your Newly Planted Rose

After your rose is planted, proper care is critical to ensure its thriving growth. In the following subsections, we will discuss the best watering guidelines, mulching and fertilizing practices, and pruning techniques for your newly planted bare root rose.

Watering Guidelines

Appropriate watering practices significantly affect the establishment and growth of your newly planted roses. It is recommended to water newly planted roses every two or three days, especially during dry spells. Providing a full watering can of water once or twice a week ensures your roses receive the moisture they need to thrive.

Watering in the morning allows the leaves to dry before the evening, preventing the growth of mold and mildew. Overwatering your roses can lead to root rot and other detrimental effects, so it’s important to strike the right balance between hydration and drainage.

Mulching and Fertilizing

Mulching and fertilizing your rose provide numerous benefits, such as soil improvement, water conservation, and weed control. The best materials for mulching bare root roses include garden compost, wood chippings, processed conifer bark, leaf mould, well-rotted manure, straw, and spent hops. It is recommended to apply mulch to your roses in late spring or autumn.

In addition, using a high-quality soil and well-draining soil can help prevent rose replant disease.

Pruning Techniques

Pruning your newly planted rose is essential for optimal growth and health. Pruning offers several benefits, including:

  • Stimulating new growth and additional blooms
  • Aiding in shaping the plant
  • Enhancing overall plant health
  • Increasing air circulation
  • Reducing the possibility of disease

It is recommended to prune bare root roses in late winter to early spring, prior to the commencement of growth. Using sterilized pruners, trim away any dead or damaged roots before planting, and remove any shriveled or dry canes from the plant.

Planting Bare Root Roses in Containers

If garden space is limited or you wish to add diversity to your landscaping, planting bare root roses in containers, such as potted plants, is an excellent alternative. Selecting the suitable container, soil, and care practices for container roses will be discussed in this section.

First, choose a container that is at least 14-16 inches in diameter for smaller shrubs that reach a height of up to 3ft. For the soil, use a well-rotted farmyard manure, compost, or other organic material and bone meal, ensuring that no manure or fertilizer comes into direct contact with the roots when planting.

Water your container roses regularly, especially during the summer months, and provide them with high potash, liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Despite the best care, some common issues may arise when planting bare root roses. How to handle dry or damaged roots and prevent rose replant disease will be covered next.

Dealing with Dry or Damaged Roots

Identifying and addressing issues with dry or damaged roots is crucial to the health of your bare root rose. Signs of dry or damaged roots include black or brittle roots, shriveled or dry canes, and broken or knotted roots.

To treat dry or damaged roots, prune any damaged roots back to healthy tissue, and soak the roots in water for an hour before planting to rehydrate them. Keeping the roots hydrated and properly cared for will ensure a healthy, thriving rose.

Preventing Rose Replant Disease

Rose replant disease, or rose sickness, occurs when a new rose is planted in the same soil where a previous rose was planted. Symptoms include:

  • General ill health
  • Plant failure
  • Leaf wilting
  • Yellowing
  • Death of part or all of the plant

To prevent rose replant disease, avoid planting roses in the same spot where a rose has previously been growing, use high-quality soil, and ensure that the soil is well-draining. By taking these precautions, you can prevent rose replant disease and enjoy a thriving rose garden.


In conclusion, this comprehensive guide has provided you with the knowledge and techniques necessary to successfully plant and care for bare root roses. From understanding the advantages of bare root roses to preparing the planting site, following a step-by-step planting guide, and addressing common issues, you now have the tools to cultivate a stunning rose garden that will bring beauty and fragrance to your outdoor space for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do bare root roses need to be planted immediately?

You need to plant bare root roses immediately after receiving them; they will die if not watered and planted ASAP. Therefore, it is essential that you soak the roots in water for 1-2 hours before planting.

What to do with a bare root rose when it arrives?

When you receive a bare root rose, you should immediately rehydrate it and prepare the soil before planting. Dig a hole, break the soil, apply Mycorrhizal Fungi, position the rose, backfill and firm-in, then water it. If ordered between November and February, you can store them in the supplied packaging for up to three weeks or alternatively heal them into a temporary hole in the garden.

Are bare root roses better than potted?

Bare root roses have distinct advantages over potted roses, including convenience and the ability to focus energies on good root development rather than extensive leaf growth.

How do you plant a bare root climbing rose?

To plant a bare root climbing rose, dig a hole twice the depth and width of the root ball, add in well-rotted organic matter, position the rose in the hole, and backfill with soil. Rehydrate the rose beforehand, break up the soil, and apply Mycorrhizal Fungi for optimal results.

What are some common concerns when planting bare root roses?

When planting bare root roses, it is important to be aware of dry or damaged roots and to take measures to prevent rose replant disease.