Plant Bare Root Roses: Save Money, Huge Selection!

by / 2 Comments / 683 View / January 17, 2014


January and February may be winter months, but it's prime time to plant bare root roses and save money on a huge selection of roses!

Bare root roses cost a fraction of the price of  a container grown rose- as much as 30-60 percent.


Because they are dormant and have no soil clothing their roots,  bare roots are lightweight and easy to ship.

Garden Centers usually stock up on a huge variety because the bare roots take up little shelf space.

If you're looking for a special hybrid tea, floribunda, climber, rambler, miniature or landscape rose, chance are good that you will find one now.

If you live in a cold climate area and your soil is frozen, you'll have to wait for it to thaw before planting.


Closeup of red knock out rose


My assignment on the Home & Family show today, (where I appear as the garden design expert) was to plant a hedge of red Knock Out roses in bare root form.



The unpainted startk wood fence needs softening and color, especially since its a backdrop for a television show.



My first choice was Knock Out roses.

WIth blooms flushing every 5 to 6 weeks throughout the year, low maintenance and disease resistance, Knock Out is a workhorse rose.

I selected the area in front of the fence because it receives at least six hours of direct sunlight every day, which is ideal.

After removing the lawn, we mixed in lots of compost from Gardner & Bloome and spaded it in to a depth of 8"-inches.



BTW- Never plant a rose bush directly into the lawn!

The thirsty lawn competes for water and nutrients with the rose.

Give your rose at least a few feet of clearance from the lawn.



Quesions and Answers About Bare Root Roses

1. Is winter a good time to plant roses? 

      Yes, you can plant as long as the soil is not frozen or in danger of freezing.


2.  What are bare root roses and how do you select a healthy one?

      Bare root roses are dormant roses that have no soil around their root area, so the roots are exposed.

      Bare root roses are graded between #1 and #2, with #1 being the best.  #1 bare root roses have at least 3 well formed canes that are 5/16th in diameter.

      Grade #1.5 and grade #2 have thinner and fewer canes.

      Look for an extensive root system that is pliable and well developed, and at least 3 well shaped canes with nice structure.


3. What kind of roses did you plant and why did you select this variety?

     We planted red "Knock Out" roses, a popular landscape rose that is considered a "work horse" rose, is low maintenance, disease resistant, cold hardy and blooms every 5 to six weeks. 

      They will grow about 4 feet tall and wide.

      They are spaced to grow together as a hedge.



4. What did you have to do to prepare the area for planting?

      First, we selected an area that gets at least six hours of full sun per day.

      We removed a 4-foot wide strip of sod along the front of the fence and added 6-inches of compost to the soil and spaded it in.

      Roses require nutrient rich soil so prepare your soil with plenty of compost. 

      Never plant roses in your lawn, they will compete for nutrients and water."


5. How do you plant a bare root rose? 

     Soak bare root roses overnight in water so they are well hydrated before planting.

     Dig a planting hole with sides that slope outward from top to bottom.

     Mound up soil in the center of the hole and spread the roots on top of it. 

     Dig the edges deeper to help roots penetrate into the soil.

     Fill with soil and set the graft union at soil level, (a couple of inches below the soil in cold winter areas where soil freezes).

     Create a small donut-shaped area around rose as a water basin.

     Mulch your soil to keep your soil warm and the moisture in. 


 6. How often do you water a Knock Out rose and fertilize it?

     Bare root roses have no leaves, so they require less water but don't allow soil to dry up! Depending on your weather, water 1 to 3 times per week.

     Don't fertilize a bare root rose until after it's first bloom period. Afterwards, you can fertilize with a rose fertilizer throughout the summer.



Watch the video of my segment, "Planting Bare Root Roses With Shirley Bovshow!"



    If you experience unexpected  freezing weather and just picked up or received your bare root roses, don't plant them!

    Leave bare root roses sealed in the bag in a cold but preferably frost free place such as a garage or shed.  Do not expose to sun or lots of light.

    You can also plant them in large pots, keep the roses bundled together and bury the roots and at least half of the stems with soil or compost.  

    Leave your pot in a sheltered shady spot. You can provide extra protection by insulating the whole pot and the stems with fleece.

    When ready to plant, soak roots in water for few hours before planting.

2 Comment

  1. Thank you Patty for watching the show and visiting my blog!

  2. Just found your site which I love, thanks to Home and family show that you are on. I love all the tips and info you give us there and now here . Thank you so so much. Love love love watching you.

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