Planting bareroot roses 

As we move more towards the middle of November, the Rose nurseries start lifting the bareroot roses from the ground. What are bareroot roses I hear some of you ask? Well there’s two main ways of buying roses, first one is in a pot with compost that allows the rose to be sold all year around and planted all year around, that’s called containerised. The second way is what is called bareroot and that is just as it sounds, the Rose is dug up without any soil and is sold on like this. As there’s no soil on the roots, this can only happen during the dormant season ie the winter. Main advantages over containerised roses is the cost, generally speaking they are much cheaper to plant this way, other advantage is you can buy a wider range of roses bareroot as it is more cost effective for the growers to grow small amounts of some varieties. It is also felt that bareroot Plants also can establish better as the root system isn’t trained into a pot and will push out into the surrounding soil much better.

Whatever the reason you wish to choose, it is a great time to order and plant bareroot roses and hopefully my simple method will help you to get the best start for them if you are trying it for the first time

First thing you need to do is dig a hole, the hole should be ideally about 40cm square and deep. I always do square holes as it helps to force roots out of the planting hole. With circular holes, the roots can go round and round but in square holes, they can’t, they hit a corner and then have to break out into the wider bed around them
Add about a handful of good fertiliser around the hole and at the bottom of the hole. Vitax Q4 or blood, fish and bonemeal are good choices. I also add some good compost around the hole at this stage, I prefer to use garden compost or recycled green waste product like pro grow rather than manure. This is because the manure is too strong for the mycorrhizal and will kill it off
Add some form of mycorrhizal to the bare root plant , mycorrhizal is forms of friendly fungus that live on all plant roots, they form a symbolic relationship with the plant, helping it to get up more water and nutrients from the soil, this can be up to 1/3 more. It is a naturally occurring around all plants but in cases of bareroot Plants, it’s all been left behind, so they will benefit from some being added. This will help the plant establish much quicker and grow away much stronger than one without it. There’s 2 ways of adding it at this stage, best way is to use a root dip, which is a paste mixed to wallpaper paste thick and has the mycorrhizal added to and then you just dip the roses into it. This is ideal if you are planting a lot of roses
Then you put the rose carefully into the middle of the hole, I would also aim to have the base of the rose ie where all the stems are coming from, about 25mm deeper than the surrounding soil height. if you are adding dry mycorrhizal instead of the root dip, I sprinkle half on the exposed roots now
Next stage is to work the soil into the gaps around the roots using your fingers and firming it in as you go. Once I have gone halfway up, I add the rest of the dry form of mycorrhizal if I am using it

And then back fill the rest of the soil around the plant being careful not to bury the stems of the roses. All you need to do now is tidy up any rough cut stems down to a bud, remove any weaker growths down to the base and try and aim for 3-4 good stems from the root stock, if there’s less, done worry, and enjoy the rose in the summer months

And that is all there is to it, nice and simple. If you would like further advice, please feel free to ask away 

32 Comments Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    You’re way ahead of us, but it reminds me of what I will be writing about soon.

    1. thomashort says:

      When does your season start Tony?

      1. tonytomeo says:

        Bare root stock starts to move into nurseries after Christmas tree move out, which happens to facilitate the allocation of limited space. It is not very cool yet.

      2. thomashort says:

        Good thinking behind it, most of our bare root roses are mail order only, come to think about it never seen them off the shelf buying in nurseries, seen in a few supermarkets and mixed shops before

      3. tonytomeo says:

        They are not in nurseries? Wow, that is a big business for the nurseries I know. We do mail order too, and they also come later, unless I get something from E-Bay or something like that. I got my American wisteria that way, from a grower in Tennessee.

      4. thomashort says:

        Yes even with bareroot trees and hedging plants are getting harder to buy over here, I think the easy of containers has damaged it quite a bit over here, which is a great shame

  2. Ann says:

    I’ve never heard of roses being planted like this. I love how cost effective it is. Thanks for sharing and I hope to see lovely blooms from these in the spring!

  3. John Kingdon says:

    I’m always surprised by the number of people who think that planting bareroot is a lot harder than planting container-grown. They usually don’t appreciate the need to tease roots out around the edges; just dig a hole barely the size of the pot and shove it in. I don’t try to explain grafting points and simply refer to “the lump” needing to be an inch below the surface. So many container roses sold by “the sheds” have the grafting point as much as 2″ above the surface of the pot. Your series of “how-tos” is one I bookmark and refer “idiots” to. Keep writing them please. At least it’s cheaper for me than plants of the week” 😉

    1. thomashort says:

      Yes totally agree John, container grown planting has just taken over hasn’t, I can only think of 1 Nursery that offered bareroot herbaceous Plants and that’s for trade only, so easy to plant them isn’t. Thank you also so much, that’s my aim with my blogs and it makes me so happy to know I am going in the right way and that others are finding it useful as well, made my day!

  4. n20gardener says:

    Very timely. My bareroot order has been placed and I am eagerly awaiting delivery. Can’t wait. I’ve got the bonemeal and that mycorrhizal stuff to hand!

    1. thomashort says:

      Good luck and I hope they grow away strongly for you, which roses have you got on order?

  5. Reblogged this on London Cottage Garden and commented:
    This is a great piece about planting bare root roses and giving the best start we possibly can.

    1. thomashort says:

      Thank you very much 😀

  6. Well you cover everything here, brilliant. Can’t wait to see them flowering!

    1. thomashort says:

      Thank you 😀 yes will put some update pics up when they flower

  7. Hi Thomas, I planted two bare root roses from David Austin rather late last winter (and by late I mean early March 😬). They flowered quite well but I am now thinking about moving them – do you think they would be OK?

    1. thomashort says:

      Good evening, yes they should be fine to move, I would trim them down to about 40cm in height just before replanting and they should be fine, you can (depending on size of the plant) move them quite successfully up to 7-8 years old, I hope that helps and good luck with the moving

      1. Thank you! I will move them with confidence now (and looking forward to treating myself to another couple of new roses – can’t resist at this time of year!)

      2. John Kingdon says:

        May I add a bit to Thomas’ advice – draw an imaginary ring on the ground which is outside the canopy of the rose when it was blooming in the summer. Then, using a fork, not a spade, dig gently in from that ring to lift the plant. This will avoid a lot of root damage and takes only a few minutes longer for a comparatively newly-planted rose.

      3. Thanks for the advice John – I will follow it and take the greatest of care as they are lovely roses (a David Austin Gertrude Jekyll and Tess of the d’Urbevilles).

  8. A great step by step post. Ideal for beginners and more experienced gardeners alike.

  9. cavershamjj says:

    Very timely, ordered mine yesterday as you saw. Should I be pruning them hard when planting? Also, I have read conflicting advice regarding the graft point. Some say it should be beneath soil level, some say above to avoid the grafted plant setting its own roots. What dya reckon?

    1. thomashort says:

      Yes I would more tidy them up a bit, they are cut down to lifting height with hedge cutters so I would certainly tidy them up by cutting them down to a good looking bud, and reduce them down to 3-4stems max if they have more! Ummm I don’t like to bury them like it about 1’’ below the surroundings soil level but not buried undersoil, can get way with burying it on young Plants but not on mature plants, not all roses will set roots if buried, ones that will spread on their own roots like rugosas, Gallicas, spinossosas are ones you don’t want spreading. I hope that helps fella

      1. cavershamjj says:

        Great thanks matey. What about container roses,and the ones I have from hardwood cuttings. Might take a photo and send later see how much you think should come off.

  10. Hello lovely Thomas
    Thank you for linking to #MyGloriousGardens this month! I loved this post and made me think about which roses to next . I want to thank you for supporting my linky. #MyGlorousGardens is going to hibernate for a few months (to write school reports and sort out Nativity costumes!) but will be back in March. I have a Christmas Linky running this month if you would like to join in, you are always welcome.I hope the Stumbling is going well…I told you you’d love it!
    Sophie xx

    1. thomashort says:

      Hi Sophie, that’s my pleasure and thank you so much for hosting it and for you kind words about the post 😀 that sounds busy! Yes and I shall look forward to joining in again in March, thank you I will do indeed, just doing one on Christmas presents for gardeners at the moment, it’s nearly done I think 🤔. StumbleUpon is going so well! Never thought I would get so many people looking at my posts, thank you very much for all your help with it 😀
      Take care and goodluck with all the making

  11. fredgardener says:

    Hi Thomas. Could you give me a good variety of climbing rose, which could grow horizontally if possible? (3m long and 1.50m high) I would like to have a white Noisette. Do you know if this one could be ok? Thanks.

    1. thomashort says:

      Yes Aimee vibert would be a great noisette to go for or lamarque would also be beautiful , they should both be ok trained in length ways too

      1. fredgardener says:

        Ok thank you! I’ll go tho the nursery this afternoon and see. Bye!

      2. thomashort says:

        No probs and I hope that they have it , good luck 👍

      3. fredgardener says:

        Yes ! I found the ‘Aimee Vibert’ one there. Thank you! Just have to plant it but 2 days of rain forecasted….wait for Sunday

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