Planting Roses – A Short Guide

When you first buy a rose plant, don’t expect it to look like the beautiful rose bushes you may have seen in more established gardens.

Planting roses is an art form and the rose plants sold online and in garden centers often come in the shape of short, leafless canes. Many even come bare root. This is completely normal.

Thankfully, roses are by no means as delicate as they seem, and when cared for in the correct manner, you can guarantee success. Applying a little effort to the planting process is a great idea, especially if you wish to promote a healthy, happy plant brimming with an array of colourful blooms.

Here we have listed a few tips for planting roses and how to care for them once they are planted.

Short Guide to Planting Roses

Choose a position that enjoys full sunlight. Roses love the sun and require six or more hours of sunlight per day. This doesn’t however apply to all species and certain variants will thrive equally as well in partial shade. With so many options to choose from, it’s imperative you do your research before planting your rose bush.

The majority of roses bloom well when placed in an environment that enjoys full sunlight. Although roses aren’t too fussy about soil, rich loam is recommended. If working with poor soil or heavy clay, add several inches of organic matter to the mix and try to opt for a pH that is acidic to neutral.

The most important factor to take into consideration is good drainage. Roses require a great deal of water, yet despite this, if they’re left to sit in soil that is too moist, they will most likely suffer from root rot.

Finally, avoid overcrowding when planting roses. The more space these plants have, the less susceptible they will be to fungal diseases, including powdery mildew and black spot – both of these diseases form on the leaves.

Plant Roses

When planting roses, you will need to dig a hole that measures slightly wider than the rose bush, which is as deep as the rose’s root ball. This is normally between 15–18 inches deep by 18–24 inches wide.

For best results, combine a handful of superphosphate or bone meal with the soil mixture removed from the hole. This should be saved for refilling the hole once the rose bush has been planted. This concoction will help the rose to familiarise itself with its new home. It’s important to avoid feeding the rose with anything else in the initial planting stage, in order to encourage the roots to take hold.

If the rose you have is encased in a container, simply remove the plant from the pot and loosen the roots slightly as this will encourage healthy growth. Alternatively, if your rose is bare-root, you must soak the roots for up to an hour before planting in the ground. If you don’t complete this step, they may dry out completely.

The next step requires you to make a mound in the center of the hole, using the soil and superphosphate or bone meal mixture. The mound should be high enough to show the knobby graft union. Once the plant settles, the graft union will be fully buried.

You must then spread the roots down the sides of the mound and follow by filling in the hole. To help settle your rose bush, water the soil sparingly and add 1–2 inches of mulch. From then on, you must water your plant at least once per week.

When you start to see new growth, you will know that the rose bush has adjusted.

Additional Rose Planting Tips

If planting in the winter months or in a cooler climate, simply add more soil or mulch to the base of the rose canes. This will help to protect your plant. When the weather begins to improve, remove this excess soil.

If transplanting an existing rose, prune its canes, so that they measure between six and eight inches. This will encourage the rose bush to expand its roots, rather than putting all of its energy into its top growth.

Caring for Roses after Planting

Once your rose is established; you must water it once per week, as this will promote a deep root system. When you begin to see signs of growth – this usually occurs in the spring – feed your roses. Continue this practice post each bloom; this normally occurs every six weeks throughout the growing season.

Cease feeding your rose bush around six weeks before the first signs of frost usually arrive, but continue to water the plant until the ground is frozen. If based in a warmer climate, continue watering throughout the year.


Lily Calyx is our in-house flower whisperer, an expert on all things botanical and an enthusiastic orchids collector. She loves discussing the insights of the secret world of flowers, shares her gardening tips and hacks and moons over the latest additions to Serenata Flowers flower range. Ask Lily anything about flowers and we can guarantee she will have the answer.

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