Planting New Roses
Spring is here and so are the new roses. Some of you order bare-root roses from various mail order houses and others buy from the local nurseries. The mail order roses usually arrive in late March through April.
By Diane Brueckman
(This article was first published in The Gateway Gardener March 2013 issue.)
Spring is here and so are the new roses. Some of you order bare-root roses from various mail order houses and others buy from the local nurseries. The mail order roses usually arrive in late March through April. If bare-root roses arrive later than April, I would complain to your supplier because it is often too hot to plant the bare-root roses directly into the garden. Some roses from smaller nurseries do come in pots. I would hold those roses and any potted roses purchased locally until after the last average frost date (April 15th) before planting them out. They can be moved into the garage to protect them from frost when needed.
Open the roses as soon as they arrive to make sure they are in good condition. If you can’t plant them immediately, wrap the plants in wet newspaper or back into the packing material they came in. When you are ready to plant check for broken canes or roots and trim them off. Tip prune the remaining roots and trim the canes back to an outside facing bud then soak the plants overnight or at least 4 or 5 hours before planting. I like to soak mine in a bucket of water with a tablespoon or two of bleach to kill any disease that may be on the roots. You are now ready to plant you new bush.
Prepare the planting hole by digging the hole large enough to spread the roots and deep enough to plant the bud union an inch or so below the soil line. Build a mound of soil in the center of the hole to support the bush with the roots spread around it. Back fill the hole about ¾ of the way up and water to fill in the air spaces around the roots. Now fill to the top of the soil line and tamp down the soil, water again. Cover your new rose to the tips of the canes with mulch much as you would do for winter protection. Leave the mulch on for about two weeks. This is a very important step and must be done even if the temperature is very mild or even warm. The reason for the mulch is to protect the new plant from drying out before it can establish roots to support the new growth.
Before planting the new bush potted or bare-root, I add some organic material to the soil. Compost is good, leaf mould or my chicken soup (see the Nov./Dec. 2012 issue for the recipe, or go to GreenGardeningStL.com and type “chicken soup” in the Search box). One thing you do not want to do is add a chemical fertilizer directly to the soil when planting. It is OK to fertilizer after the first bloom, when your plant is pretty well established otherwise you could burn those tender new roots.
If your bare-root plants arrive after May 1st it is best to pot them up and hold them for a good month until they root into the potting mix. That way you can protect them from too much sun and heat while they establish a root system. To check if they are ready to be planted tip the pot gently and see if the soil is loose or the plant is well anchored in the pot. Loose soil indicates the plant is not fully anchored in the soil and it needs more time in the pot.
The planting hole for a potted rose needs to be deep enough for the bud union to be below the soil line. Make to hole wide enough to give the new roots some room to grow. Check the root ball for girdling roots and cut as necessary to prevent the plant from strangling itself later on. Again only feed with organics until the rose has had its first bloom. It is not necessary to cover the rose as it has already established a root system.
Diane Brueckman is a retired rosarian with Missouri Botanical Garden, and currently owns Rosey Acres in Baldwin, Illinois. You can reach her at (618) 785-3011.