By Stan V. Griep
American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District
Are you intimidated by bare root roses? There is no need to be. Caring for and planting bare root roses is as easy as a few simple steps. Read below to learn how to care for bare root roses and how to plant bare root rose bushes.
What are Bare Root Roses?
Some rose bushes may be ordered as what is called bare root rose bushes. When you buy rose plants with bare roots, these come to you in a box without soil and with their root systems either wrapped in wet paper or in clear plastic bags with some wet shredded paper to help keep the roots wet during shipment.
Tips for Bare Root Roses Care After They Arrive
Take the bare root roses out of the packing material, place them in a bucket of water for 24 hours, and then plant them in your new rose bed.
After we have taken them out of their packing and placed them in a 5-gallon bucket or two or three that we filled most of the way with water, we need enough water to cover all the root system well and up onto the trunk of the rose bush a bit.
I like to add a tablespoon or two of a product called Super Thrive to the water, as I have found it helps with the transplant shock and shipping shock. By soaking your bare root roses, your chances of success with these rose bushes goes up as a new rose gardener.
Preparing a Place for Planting Bare Root Roses
While our rose bushes are soaking for 24 hours, we have some time to go get their new homes ready. Out to the new rose bed we go to dig the planting holes for them. For any of my hybrid tea, floribunda, grandiflora, climber or shrub roses, I dig the planting holes 18 to 20 inches in diameter and at least 20 inches deep.
Now we fill the new planting holes up about half way with water and let it drain away while the rose bushes are soaking in the buckets.
The soil I dig out is placed into a wheelbarrow where I can mix it with either some compost or a good well-blended bagged garden soil. If I have some on hand, I will mix two to three cups of alfalfa meal into the soil as well. Not the rabbit food pellets, but actual ground up alfalfa meal, as some of the rabbit pellet foods have salts in them that will not do the rose bushes any good.
Once the rose bushes have soaked for their 24 hours, we take the buckets of water and rose bushes out to our new rose bed site for planting. Read more about planting roses here.