Planting Rose Bushes

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Here are some simple guidelines for planting rose bushes, followed by a short video on planting bare root roses.

Before You Plant

Select rose bushes that will thrive in your climate. Visit your local nurseries to inspect their selections and ask questions.

Choose and prepare a good location. Choose a location where the rose bushes will receive six hours of sunlight every day (unless you are planting shade-tolerant roses), where air circulation is good, and where the soil has good drainage and is relatively fertile.

Test the soil pH and, if necessary, add soil amendments. Roses prefer soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0, although they can survive in a wider range of pH.

To test the drainage before planting rose bushes, dig a hole one to two feet deep and fill it with water. If standing water remains after two hours, then choose another location or find a way to improve drainage.

When to Plant Rose Bushes

For most bare root rose bushes, you want to plant in late winter. If you purchase container roses, plant in early spring. Avoid planting rose bushes in summer because the stress of hot weather is often too much for a new plant.

Preparing to Plant Rose Bushes

If you are planting bare root roses, use sterilized and sharp pruning shears to prune away any broken or damaged roots. Also, prune the remaining roots to a length of about twelve inches. Keeping the roots a manageable length will help prevent damage during the planting process. Next, soak the roots over night in water to help them rehydrate.

(If you are planting container roses, skip this step, because the roots are already held within the dirt in the pot and disturbing the roots that have begun to grow inside the container could damage your roses.)

Planting Rose Bushes

If planting instructions come with your roses, follow them. Otherwise, here are general guidelines for planting rose bushes.


  1. Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the size of your rose bush’s container (or root ball) and at least 12-15 inches deep. Create a small mound of soil at the center of the hole to serve as a support to the root crown.
  2. Place the rose plant into the hole and hold it to ensure that it is level with the ground without smashing down the roots. If you are planting container roses, keep the plant in the container throughout this stage. If the plant is too high, then you need to remove the plant and keep digging. If the rose plant is too low, you’ve dug too deep and need to add some dirt back into the hole.
  3. Place your rose bush into the hole (remove the pot if you are using container roses). Place the root crown at the top of the mound and arrange the roots down and over the top of the mound. Distribute the roots as equally around the mound as possible. Rose roots growaccording to their placement at planting. You want them to spread and create a good system. Never let the roots wrap around the rose bush.
  4. Hold the rose bush while you fill the hole halfway with soil. Then add some water and let it drain. Do not let the rose bush sink. Finish filling the hole with dirt and water again. Tap down the soil gently to get rid of any air bubbles.

Caring for Your New Rose Bushes

Most newly planted rose bushes require one inch of water a week, maybe more, depending on your climate. Learn to read signs of stress. If the leaves of your rose bush seem to droop, it probably needs more water. If the leaves become yellow and start to drop, you may be overwatering.

Video – Planting Bare Root Roses

Updated: June 26, 2013 — 12:56 pm

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