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How to Plant Roses

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Soil types and Preparation

It is wise to think well in advance about the soil you are going to be planting your rose into.

To begin with it is good to know a little about your soil type. Is it sandy, chalky, clay or loam? On the whole roses love clay, enjoy a well balanced loam, tolerate sandy conditions but will struggle in chalk so soils of the latter two types will require conditioning. It is also useful to know the pH of your soil. pH testing kits are readily available and are inexpensive, therefore a good investment. Roses prefer a neutral to acid soil, a pH of around 6.5 but are very happy on the margins of this. A pH of 7 or below indicates an acid soil and will require the addition of garden lime or mushroom compost to help redress the balance. Likewise an alkaline soil will require improvement. Well rotted farmyard manure is ideal but not always readily available. Peat is also good but as a finite resource should be avoided if possible; there are some very good peat substitutes available instead.

Soil should be well dug in advance and it is at this stage that any additions can be made.


How you can expect to receive your bare root roses

Please Note: Bare-root roses are tied in bundles. If you have ordered more than one rose please cut the string holding the roses together and separate carefully before planting.

Roses should not be planted when their roots are dry nor should they be planted during frost. If it is frosty when you receive them, they should not take any harm left unopened in their package for up to one week. If it remains frosty for longer than this open the package and, after moistening the roots, place the roses – still in their bundle – in a container of damp soil or damp sand. A wooden box, bucket or large polythene bag will usually hold enough soil for this purpose. Plant out the roses when the frost has disappeared. If the roses arrive when it is not convenient for you to plant them, they should be ‘heeled in’ out of doors the moment the weather permits.


Heeling in your roses for bad weather

If your bare root rose order arrives in a period of heavy frost it is going to be very difficult to plant it. Therefore, in preparation for its arrival have an area of soil covered with an old piece of carpet or something the frost is unlikely to penetrate, in which the rose maybe ‘heeled in’ until it is able to be planted. When it arrives dig a trench deep enough to cover all the roots. Lay the rose against the side of the trench on which you have mounded the soil and simply dig more soil over the roots, compressing the soil as you go.


Healing in bare root roses


How to plant bare root roses

For a bare root rose the hole should be wide enough to allow the roots to be spread out and deep enough so that the bases of the stems are just covered. The same depth applies for a potted rose, and although the hole should be wide enough for the root ball, I would not advocate the teasing out of the roots, the plant should be young enough to allow the roots to break through. At this point we would recommend using Peter Beales Roots Boost, which contains essential ingredients for robust rose growth, increased nutrient and water uptake, for  healthier plant performance and suppression of soil borne diseases. Roots Boost should be sprinkled in the planting hole so that it comes into direct contact with the roots when planting any rose. The friendly fungi will attach to the roots of the plant making it easier for them to uptake the essential nutrients and water needed for initial healthy growth. 

If using a proprietary rose food or bone meal instead of Roots Boost, a handful is enough and this should be mixed in with the soil to avoid root scorch. A little powdered food can also be sprinkled onto the removed soil before it is returned.

The bare root rose should now be held with one hand at the right depth with the roots spread out, whilst the first of the soil is returned, either by hand or with a spade. When approximately half the hole is full the rose can be left alone and the soil firmed in by foot. The remainder of the soil can then be returned and firmed in the same way.

Once this is done the surface soil may be tidied and the rose labelled, there is nothing more annoying than not knowing the name of a beautiful rose.

Bare root roses should always be hard pruned at planting time. Climbers, ramblers and shrub roses should be reduced to about six inches, bush roses to about four inches. Even the most rampant of ramblers will benefit from this treatment as it encourages basal growth, from which the plant will make its shape. 

Shrub roses should be planted at the closest 60cm (2ft) apart.

If you are interested in purchasing Peter Beales Roots Boosts please click here


Planting bare root roses


How to plant a rose bought in a container

The same depth applies for a rose bought in a container, with the first inch or so of the branches below soil level, and the hole wide enough for the root ball, there is no need to tease the roots out but better to leave the root ball intact. If purchased early in the summer season (before June) it is wise to leave the rose in its pot to give the roots time to establish.

Planting roses


Planting roses in pots

As a rough guide, for smaller shrubs which grow up to 3ft, use pots with a 14 – 16 inch diameter. For larger ramblers and scramblers use pots with a depth of up to 20 – 22 inches.

As with planting roses into the ground the base of the stems should be just below the surface of the soil. If using a ready-made compost it would be wise to choose one that is soil based. Always add drainage to the bottom of the pot, shingle is fine, roses hate to have their feet in water. Leave enough distance from the edge of the pot to the compost to allow for watering without compost spillage, a couple of inches is advisable.

Every year when the rose is dormant, compost should be scraped away to a depth of a few inches and replaced. Then, after approximately three years the dormant rose should be removed and all the compost replaced.


Transplanting mature roses

1. Prepare the area well. 2. Prune the rose as hard as possible, leaving some younger wood. 3. When digging up the rose, try to retain the soil as a ball around the roots. It is likely that some roots will be damaged in this process but as long as most of the fibrous roots remain intact this should not cause too much concern. 4. Plant with care, being careful not to break up the root ball when treading the soil down. 5. Water well and thereafter, regularly to help the roots establish quickly.


Specific rose replant disorder / Rose replant disease

Planting a rose in a cardboard box to avoid replant disease


Unfortunately roses should never be planted where they have been before, unless the ground is given adequate rest or is treated. The old fashioned method of treatment was Jeyes fluid but there are other sterilants available that are less harmful including a tar based product. If leaving the ground to rest a period of two or more years will be required. In the mean time plant the area with other plants such as begonias which, it is said, have cleansing properties.

The alternative is to dig out and replace the soil from elsewhere in the garden, or import fresh soil.

You could also dig a hole large enough for a bio-degradable cardboard box, no smaller than 1 cubic foot in size and fill with fresh soil. The box should be sunk into the ground in the position where you wish to plant your new rose and filled with good virgin soil or compost. Plant your rose in the centre of the box at normal planting depth.

Rose replant disease or rose sickness as it is sometimes known, is the result of Allelopathy, which is the effects of one plant on another. In this case it is thought to be the chemical secretion from one rose that is left in the soil, to which a new rose will object. Planting a new rose in another’s shoes will result in a rose that is stunted and unwell, never producing abundant bloom and a flower that, by and large is smaller than it should be.

If you are interested in purchasing our Rose Replant Boxes please click here


 If you would like to learn more about planting and pruning your roses, then why not come along to one our informative Pruning and Planting Workshops



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