How To Plant Roses

Re-Plant Disease | Planting Roses | Organic Fertilizer | Newsletter

How To Plant Roses should, of course, be “how to plant rose bushes” but never mind, you're going to get your hands dirty either way! There is always a right way and a wrong way to do everything and anything, so here is the positive side of the equation: how to plant roses.

Basically all rose bushes are planted the same way. Dig a hole and put the roots of the bush in it! Simple eh? You just have to know which end are the roots. Well, simple as it may seem, there are a few considerations and some pre-planning that is necessary.

The variety of the rose bush isn't really a concern but the way you came by it is.

How to Plant Roses: first check what you have.

Your rose bush may be in a pot, or it maybe wrapped in plastic within a wax container, or maybe it's a dry, bare root bush. It may also be a re-plant as you move your bushes from one spot to another. Each situation requires a little different preparation.

Potted roses are the easiest because you just have to hold the bush by the main stem and tap the pot until it drops, which is easier if the soil is very dry but I prefer to soak the roots of the bush before I remove it from it's pot.

You should look to see if the pot has top fertilizer (usually little round balls of slow release Osmacote!) and watch where these go because they can be valuable and should go into the hole with your bush. You should also check for the metal (usually green) circular name tag.


No, the rose bush police will not make an arrest but you will need to know the plants full name some time in the future. (...or maybe have to take it back to the nursery if something goes wrong)

When I am asked to help with a rose bush problem my first question is always, "What's the name of the rose?" and at least 25% of the time I get the answer, "I don't remember", followed by, "What metal tag?" Make sure the metal tag stays on the plant!

Plastic wrapped roses MUST be removed from the plastic and the box and the roots carefully separated and soaked for an hour or two. A wheelbarrow full of water is good for this if you can find one that doesn't leak.

Bare root roses should be soaked in warm water for twelve hours before planting.

If you are re-planting a bush from somewhere else, don not dig it up until you have the new hole ready, and then make doubly sure you have got all the roots, especially the big center one sometimes called the “Tap Root”.

Planting A Bare Root Rose Bush is a short video (3.50 mins) which carefully explains how a rose bush should be treated at planting time-->sound on?

How to Plant Roses: the simple steps

Prepare the bush, prepare the soil, position the hole, dig the hole......and PLANT!

Prepare the bush:

Prune out any broken stems or any small roots growing from the graft union. Spread out the roots if you can (not if it's from a pot of course!) and handle gently.

Prepare the soil:

Have some lightweight soil on hand to mix with what you dig out of the ground. The roots need room to move and grow and this is a good time to enhance the soil with compost...but not fertilizer.

Position the hole:

Your rose will need six hours of sunlight a day on average so don't plant it in the shade or under a tree. Make sure it's away from the roots of any other plant and a good meter or three feet away from any other rose. Make sure also that when you dig the hole it doesn't fill with ground water for obviously the area will be far too damp.

Dig the hole and plant:

Dig the hole at least 18 inches across and deep enough for the roots. Place a stick across the hole and make sure the graft joint is about the height of the stick: not above or below! Shovel in the re-mixed soil and stamp it down with your boots. It must be firm so a dance around the bush is really necessary!

How To Plant Roses...Ten points to watch out for.


Imagine how big your bush is going to get, add a few feet and allow for this in your planting. Rose bushes need air to circulate around them. Don't crowd them by planting too close.

The Grafting Joint

This is the large “knobble” between the bush and the roots in the middle of the main stem. Many roses are grafted and you must make sure that if you live in a very northern and extremely cold area, this “knobble” is just below the ground surface.

Normal temperatures in winter and warm summers and you can place this graft just above ground level. You can of course build up the soil over this graft in the winter but remove it in spring or it will start to sprout roots of it's own. Make sure you remove all these unwanted roots.

Which Way Around

Doesn't matter although some say to see which way it's tending to grow (towards the sun) and planted it in a similar fashion. Others say the opposite to balance the growth on both sides. Clearly it's unclear!

Replant Disease

Never plant a rose bush in the hole of another rose. For some strange reason, the new rose will reject it. Always replace the soil from the old hole with new or plant within a large cardboard box, one that will disintegrate. More on this at Rose Replant Disease

Soil Composition

This is the perfect time to take a look at the soil composition. Is it too sandy, too clayey and maybe you can do a Ph. Test. (..should be about 6.5, more on the alkaline side than the acidic, although all mine grow in pine needles!) Peat moss is a good additive although it tends to raise the Ph.


No need to fertilize the new bush because it is already provided for with slow release from the nursery. Bare root roses could have a handful of bone meal mixed in with the soil to promote the root growth. There really is no need to fertilize for at least another six months.

To Prune or Not

If your bush is bare root or potted then there is no need to prune except to remove dead and broken canes. If you are moving an older bush, a light pruning helps. Some gardeners cut away about one third of the roots to promote growth. This is particularly productive with the re-potting of miniatures.


Once you have planted and firmed down the soil, soak the roots for a few days. Then would be a good time to put down a few inches of mulch for protection against hot sun and to keep the weeds down. Bark mulch, peat moss, well rotted compost, whatever as long as it doesn't attract the mice or raise the Ph. (...yes I know, pine needles are not the greatest!)

Water, Water, Water

The only way to overcome planting shock and get those roots eating is to water, water, water and water again. Make sure moisture is available to the roots for the first month to get them on their way.

Keeping Records

As you plant, record what and where you planted it. Obviously you will keep the circular green metal tag on the bush but make a plan, write it down somewhere. This is the best time to do it when you remember, when you are aware and when the bush is small.

Well, that's it, your rose bush is planted. Now all you have to do is....well lots more....maybe you should get our FREE Newsletter because it will tell you what to do each month!

How to plant roses....well now you know!

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