Single rows of roses require beds at least 3 feet wide; double
rows need 4 to 5 feet. For convenience, it is preferable to not
have more than two rows. Well prepared beds pay big returns
in rose enjoyment!
Dig a hole about 18 inches deep by 2 feet in diameter for
each bush. Make sure the roots will fit in the hole
without bending. Add compost to the native soil and 1 cup
of dolomite lime. Ideal proportions are about 10%
compost by volume. Mix thoroughly. If the soil is not well drained,
consider growing roses in raised beds--roses need plenty of water,
but the soil has to drain well. They don't like wet feet.
For organic materials, use what is available locally.
Home-made compost - leaves, grass clippings, garden
trimmings, weeds, kitchen scraps, coffee grounds - is
great for the garden. Composted animal manures,
particularly chicken, rabbit, llama or horse, are excellent
additions to your garden soil. Leaf mold is simply
rotted leaves, and is also a good soil amendment.
Compost can also be purchased in bags or in bulk.
Mushroom compost is great for roses - sterilized composted
steer manure and wood shavings that has been used to grow
mushrooms in. It's readily available in bulk, and
Some materials to avoid using as soil amendments are peat
moss, ground or beauty bark, and potting soil. Peat
moss is widely recommended, but just doesn't work in West
Coast soils, due to our wet winters and dry summers.
Peat moss soaks up and holds large amounts of water when
wet, keeping your rose roots waterlogged in our wet winters.
Dry peat moss is hydrophobic - it repels water, so in
summer's drought, peat moss keeps water away from your rose
roots. Beauty bark isn't particularly bad for your
garden, since is is organic material, but it doesn't add any
nutrients, and it's slow to decompose, being made from
conifer bark. Potting soil is designed to be used by
itself in pots, not mixed with soil in the ground. It
won't drain correctly if used as a soil amendment,
potentially rotting your rose roots. And, it's more
expensive than soil amendments.
Many people like to add fertilizers when preparing a
planting hole, however it's best to keep fertilizers towards
the top of the hole, not the bottom, where they tend to be
lost to the roots. Small amounts of dry slow-release
(organic) fertilizer can be added to the top layers of the
hole. Avoid adding bone meal, superphosphate, triple
phosphate, or nitrogen in the backfill. Timed-release
fertilizers like Osmocote should also be avoided, as they
don't work well in our area - our soil is too cool for their
nutrients to be released.
Timing and Planting
Plant bare root roses from November through March when the
soil is not frozen. Potted roses may be planted at almost any
Select good quality rose bushes (preferably from a reputable
nursery or mail order, NOT the drugstore) which have not dried
out in storage or shipment. Store bare root roses in a cool
if they are not to be planted immediately. Keep them moist. Soak
roots briefly before planting. Potted roses may be held indefinitely
before planting, provided usual watering and feeding continue.
Bare root roses should be pruned back slightly before planting,
cutting back to strong buds. Trim broken roots. Potted roses need to be pruned when
planted. Dig a hole at least 18 inches deep in a prepared bed,
mound up the soil in a cone in the middle, and arrange the
roots over this cone so that the bud union (where the rose is grafted to the
root) is a couple of inches below the soil level. Cover the roots with some soil,
firm the soil around the roots and water thoroughly. When the
soil has settled, finish filling the hole and mound soil over
the canes to conserve moisture. (Note: This is important
when planting in the early spring. Don't let the rose canes dry
out before the roots get a chance to grow and supply moisture
to the canes!) When new growth has started, remove the mounded
If you're planting later in spring, you might want to
construct a watering moat around your newly planted rose;
but if you're planting in fall or winter, a moat could
easily drown your rose.
Roses grow best in a sunny location; six hours daily is considered
a minimum for lots of blooms. Try to select a location where
there will be sun for at least half the day, not too near large
trees or hedges. Roses described as 'shade tolerant', aren't
here. Between the frequent cloud cover and the
northern latitude that puts the sun low in the sky, roses
need every last bit of direct sun you can give them.
Sunrise to sunset won't be too much sun. Roses do
best in relatively fine textured, but well drained, soils.
Sandy loams are ideal, but any soil will work with the
addition of sufficient organic material, and attention to