rose planting: getting roses off to a great start for many years of beauty!

Happy almost spring! It seems like everything in the garden is starting to wake up! Today we gained an extra hour of daylight which is so appreciated with how much work we have left to do at the farm before our season begins. Hooray for daylight savings! No matter where you live, the time is now or coming close to getting your roses planted in their forever home. If you live in an area that gets frost, please wait until your last frost date to plant your roses outdoors. You don't want to risk your roses being exposed to frost, as cane dieback can happen and any new foliage on the plants can die. If you receive your roses before your last frost date, just pot them up and leave them in your garage, basement or other area that's not going to freeze. A lot of people have told me they have no clue how to properly plant a rose, so I'm going to show you how truly simple it can be. The most work is digging the hole, but once that's done planting is quick and your roses will thrive for many years.

There are just a few gardening tools needed:



Gopher basket (recommended for areas with known gopher/mole/vole issues)
Planting amendment
Organic potting soil
Garden shears such as Felco 100
Watering hose
Mulch or wood chips

You probably already have most of the items needed to plant roses. The only two things I will elaborate on are planting amendment and potting soil and why they're important. My favorite planting amendment is E.B. Stone's Sure Start. Sure Start is a blend of organic ingredients that help newly transplanted plants develop strong roots - without strong roots, plants won't thrive and that's especially true for roses. The natural formulation contains blood meal, feather meal, bone meal, dried chicken manure, bat guano, alfalfa meal, kelp meal, potassium sulfate, humic acids and soil microbes including mycorrhizal fungi. It's extremely safe and easy to use and will provide your roses with a great foundation as they get acclimated. I've used Sure Start in my garden for many years and find my roses love it! The other product I recommend to get roses started is E.B. Stone's Rose and Flower Food as it contains slow release nitrogen designed to encourage steady growth. Both of those products are great to have on hand for all your planting and gardening projects!

Bare root roses: When you receive a bare root rose, it should arrive with bud eyes pushing new growth. This means your rose is waking up from winter dormancy! Upon arrival of your bare root rose, fill a clean bucket with water and soak the roots for 1-2 days. Then follow the planting instructions in our video.

Potted roses: Our potted roses have been grown in the ground for the past year and were only recently dug up and planted in a pot so we could ship your rose. You need to transfer your rose to a larger pot (5-10 gallon) or plant it in the ground upon receipt. 

If your soil is clay and heavy, I suggest amending it with organic potting soil to lighten it and let the roots establish freely. A lightweight potting soil will help with drainage and if you're putting your rose into a pot, you will want to use it. If you're planting your rose in the ground, you can mix 1/2-2/3 ground soil with 1/2-1/3 potting soil. An organic potting soil I've used is Dr. Earth Pot of Gold, however any organic potting soil from your garden center will work.

Here in California many municipalities offer mulch and wood chips to residents. Contact your county or city recycling department and ask if they have a mulch program and most will deliver to your home (for a small fee) or allow you to load a truck from their recycling center (usually free). We like to mulch our roses with a mix of fine mulch and larger wood chips which will break down over the season and provide food for our roses. Mulching helps keep your roses' roots cool, as well as beautifies the garden. Each rose needs 2-4 shovels of mulch evenly spread around the base. To me, there's nothing prettier than a freshly mulched rose bed!

If your rose is already leafed out at planting (ie. came from a pot and not bare root) you can add 1 cup of alfalfa pellets to the top of your soil around the drip line. Just be sure to water the pellets in really well so they break down into the soil. Alfalfa is one of my top ingredients for beautiful roses. I've had roses that looked like they were on the brink of death (such as when emitters stopped working on our irrigation and we didn't catch it time) and about a week after applying alfalfa, they perked up and came back with vigor. I cannot say enough good things about alfalfa and roses!

As you will see in our video, planting roses is simple once you get your hole dug! Maybe have a man on hand for that part - I make sure I do! In my next post I will show you how we give our roses their first spring feeding. This is a really important part of rose growing and provides the nutrition for your plants to show off for their first flush of the year. Thank you for following along and we can't wait to show you the beauty our farm is growing this season! Our roses will be blooming in April and we have some really exciting announcements and changes happening at our farm!


David Austin Garden Roses

The world's most loved and cherished garden roses for English breeder, David Austin.

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