Before You Plant
Before planting, check these requirements carefully to make sure your rose will be planted in the proper site.
Roses must have plenty of sun, at least 5-6 hours a day, preferably morning sun. Some afternoon shade is helpful. Providing good air circulation will help reduce fungal leaf diseases.
Avoid southwest exposures because of winds and excessive reflective heat. Try to avoid planting where the rose will be exposed to hot or dry winds.
Roses grow best in a fertile, well drained, slightly acidic (pH 6.0-6.5) soil.
Regular watering, especially during dry periods, will insure continuous flowering (on everblooming roses) during the main growing season. Roses should receive approximately 1" of water per week.
Handling and Care Before Planting
Pick up and carry your rose only by grasping the container. Damage from dropping or throwing shows up at a later date. Replacement is expensive and unnecessary and should be prevented now.
It is important to plant as soon as weather permits. Early planting gives roots a chance to start growth before the tops leaf out.
Do not let the roots dry out. If you cannot plant right away because of weather conditions or time schedule, make sure the soil is moist in the container and place the plant in an area protected from winds.
Cold Weather Protection
Boxed roses purchased in early spring will benefit from protection when subfreezing temperatures inevitably occur. Roses can withstand different low temperatures depending on their stage of growth.
- Tight buds (buds just beginning to develop swelling) usually pink or white: 28° F.
- Tight leaf (leaves showing green but in a constricted form): 30° F.
- Full leaf (leaves open and distinguishable): 32.5° F.
- Full leaf with rosebuds beginning to develop will experience some leaf "browning" at 32° F you will lose some leaves although the plant should not die.
If storing boxed rose for planting later, be sure to water regularly and store in a cool place (32-40° F). Be sure to protect from low temperatures as mentioned above. If stored in a warm environment growth will occur and would best be planted after May 15, "traditional" frost free date in the Madison area.
If freezing is predicted, place them in a location safe from subfreezing temperatures.
Dig the hole
For Individual Plant: Dig a hole big enough to allow roots to spread. Allow 1 foot wider and 6 inches deeper than the container the rose comes in.
In foundation plantings, make sure the bushes are planted 2 feet from the building. Climbing roses should be planted 12-15 inches away from their intended support. Space climbing roses 4-5 feet apart on a wall, 6-8 feet on a trellis or fence. Tree roses need 3-5 feet between specimens. Hybrid teas, floribundas and grandifloras should be spaced about 2 feet apart. Miniature roses can be spaced approximately 18" apart. Hardy shrub roses are highly variable in size; spacing will be determined by variety.
Improve Backfill Soil
Half the soil that was dug out of the hole will be used to backfill and should be improved with organic matter. Mix the soil with well rotted manure, compost or peat moss to a ratio of 1 part organic to 2 parts soil. This loosened, enriched mixture allows greater root development and easier root spread into the surrounding native soil.
Backfill 6 Inches and Set in Rose
Line the bottom of the hole with 6 inches of the improved backfill and place the container on top. Take off papier-mâché or cardboard containers if they appear to come away easily, otherwise punch holes in sides or slit lengthwise in many places to allow water exchange and more rapid breakdown of the paper. Cut away any paper that comes above the soil surface. The paper can act as a wick and dry out the root ball below. Plastic pots must be removed.
Planting Depth of Hybrid Tea Roses
Check to make sure bud union is 1-2 inches below ground level. In cold climates, it should be protected by remaining below the ground surface. In the future, be sure to cut off any suckers that come up from below the ground. Hardy Shrub Roses should be planted at the same depth as in the container.
Apply a Fertilizer
Add bone meal or a rose fertilizer to the planting hole. Roses are heavy users of fertilizer. As the season progresses, more fertilizer may be applied. Follow instructions on fertilizer label and spread evenly. Do not fertilize in the fall as it will stimulate new growth, delay hardening off, and winterkill will result. Fertilizer should also be kept away from the plant's stems and leaves.
Fill in Hole
Fill to the top of the hole with improved backfill. Firm down. Do not trample, as it can break and injure the roots.
Build a basin with soil to catch water. Run water slowly into the basin. This will help eliminate air pockets, settle soil and bring it into firm contact with the roots.
Early Spring Plant Protection
If planting in early spring, you may wish to mound loose garden soil 8-10 inches over the plant, or cover with your favorite method of protection. This can help protect the canes from late frost damage, temperature fluctuations, and drying winds.
Apply a 3 inch mulch over the root area. Keep the mulch on the soil throughout the year. It will keep grass and weeds from competing with the rose for water and nutrients. Mulch will retain the much needed moisture that roses require.
Caring for Roses
After blossoms fade, cut off the stem above an outward facing 5-leaflet leaf, making the cut at a 45° angle.
For cut flowers, cut only as much of the stem as needed. Cut at a 45° angle above an outward facing 5-leaflet leaf.
Winter Protection for Bush Roses
Hardy shrub roses on their own root need no winter protection. There are several methods that can be used to provide winter protection for tender roses.
Circle the rose with a rose collar or two foot high, 1/4" wire mesh screen, after the ground freezes for the winter, usually around the end of November. Fill with dry leaves enough to cover canes to a height of 12". If mice and voles are a problem in your area you may wish to consider placing waterproof poison grain in a rodent-accessible container at the base of the rose.
Another method involves mounding soil 8-10" high around canes, in a rose collar after first hard frost, followed by evergreen boughs or marsh hay after the ground freezes.
Further protection may be afforded by a rose cone placed over the marsh hay and rose. In spring, remove rose cones or lids on warm days and replace at night. Then, after the last hard frost, remove cones, leaves and soil being careful not to damage any new shoots that might have started to grow while covered. (See illustration.)