Planting Bare-Root Roses

What you’ll need

  • Garden hose
  • Bucket
  • Gloves (heavy-duty)
  • Pruning shears
  • Shovel

step 1: Pre-Care

Plant bare-root roses in spring and early fall so that their roots can establish before the plant is exposed to hot summer sun. Bare-root roses should be kept cool and moist until they are planted. You can do this by digging a sloped trench in a shady spot and laying the roots of the roses at the bottom of the trench. Cover loosely with soil. Before actually planting, soak roots in a pail of water for a day (soak them in a vitamin B-1 solution for great results), up until the time you are ready to plant them.

step 2: Choose a Spot and Prepare the Soil

First, you will need to choose a location that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight. Roses prefer soil that is sandy loam, which will give you the best results. You can mix amendments to your soil, such as sand and loam, or you can add a bag of garden soil for roses with the backfill from your planting hole.

step 3: Dig

Dig a hole 2 feet deep and 2 feet wide.

step 4: Mound Soil

Use your hands to build a soil cone at the bottom of the hole. The cone will support roots and hold the plant in place while you fill in the rest of the hole.

step 5: Prune Roots & Plant

Prune roots back to 8 to 10 inches so they’ll fit without crowding.

Set the plant on the soil mound and fan out the roots over the soil mound. Fill the hole two-thirds full with enriched soil or soil mixture. Note the knobby bud union, or graft union, just below the canes. The graft union is sensitive to cold and should sit 2 inches below ground level in cold-weather climates. In moderate climates, the union should sit even with the ground level, and in warmer climates the graft union should sit slightly above the soil. You may have to adjust the depth of your hole to compensate.

Use the water from your soaking pail and pour it over the soil in the hole. Allow it to settle naturally, and then add more soil and water until the hole is filled. Soak the entire hole again.

step 6: Protect with Soil

Using your soil for roses, build an 8-inch mound of soil around the plant and build up the sides to allow for water collection. After a few weeks, the roots will establish and you can use a light sprinkling of water to wash away the mound.

step 7: Care

Water regularly and be sure to feed with a slow-release plant food that is specially formulated for roses. Control insects and diseases (which are very common on roses) with disease control concentrate and follow proper pruning methods for your plant.