How to Plant Bareroot Roses

Deciding where to plant your bareroot rose is easy. Pick a spot where you roses can get at least six hours of full sunlight every day. Bareroot roses come partially or fully bagged or boxed. When you look inside, you see plain stems and roots, perhaps along with some wood shavings or other slightly moisture-retaining material. Fear not! A bareroot plant is a dormant plant, and this appearance is normal.

Because bareroot rose plants are dormant, you get to put them in the ground earlier (in mid-spring, as soon as the soil is workable). And because they've never been cramped in a pot, the roots are likely to be in good condition and ready to go into the ground. Bareroot roses also tend to be less expensive than potted ones; cost is a consideration especially when you're putting in a hedge or boundary planting and need to buy many.

A bareroot rose plant, showing the various parts.
A bareroot rose plant, showing the various parts.

Dig the hole

When digging the hole for bareroot roses, you have to accommodate roots that are currently open to the air. Here's how to prepare the hole for bareroot roses:

  1. Dig at least a foot deep and perhaps a little wider so you can accommodate the rose's roots without cramping, pushing, or bending them.

  2. Loosen the soil on the sides and in the bottom of the hole, using your fingers or a trowel.

    This way, the roots can head outward and downward more easily when they're ready.

  3. Mound up a cone of soil in the middle on which to rest the plant.

    This method is much easier than trying to sift soil back in around the roots as you go.

Prepare the plant

With bareroot roses, you especially want to encourage new growth from the dormant plant. Here's how to prepare the plant for new life:

  1. Slide it out of its protective sleeve, pick off any packing material, and groom the plant.

    Cut off any damaged, black, or rotten stems or roots.

  2. Shorten all the canes to about 8 inches long.

    This step reduces stress on the plant when it goes into the ground. Don't worry — it'll surge into growth pretty fast! Make each cut at a 45-degree angle to an outside eye (the swollen bump on the stem) to direct new growth outward.

  3. Shorten the roots with a little 1-inch haircut.

    Cut off an inch to stimulate new growth.

  4. Re-hydrate the plant.

    Stick the roots in a bucket of lukewarm water for a few hours before planting to help it plump up.

Planting in soil

Here's how to plant your bareroot rose:

  1. Hold the plant in one hand atop the center mound and spread the roots out over it.

  2. Backfill good soil in and around the plant, pressing down lightly as you go to eliminate air pockets.

  3. Make a 12- to 18-inch basin of soil or mulch around the plant when you're done.

    This step makes watering easier. Give the plant a good soaking! If it settles too low in the hole after the watering, wiggle the plant back up.

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