Tips for Planting Roses

My Garden Life
June 8, 2017
Table of Contents

For many centuries roses have been beloved for their beauty, fragrance and their majesty. Roses are a symbol of love and commitment, and it is no wonder they are recognized far and wide as garden royalty. Finding the best rose and planting it might feel like a daunting task, but with these tips you can choose the right rose for your garden and plant it with confidence.

Choose the “Best” Rose

The first step toward growing the best roses is to choose the right varieties. It is important to choose roses that are suited for your own environment. Some of the most popular types of roses include:


Hybrid Tea



Grows vertically and should be trained to a fence, arbor, trellis or wall. Upright-growing showpiece that shines in the middle or back of a garden. Perfect for small-space gardens, planted near the front of a bed or in a container. Great choice to create a hedge or grow among other plants in the landscape.

Beginning gardeners may also want to refer to the plant label for information about which varieties of roses are easiest to grow. There are disease resistant varieties of roses that are perfect for first time gardeners. These disease resistant varieties of roses will require less care and maintenance than traditional roses. Only the healthiest roses will provide the most beautiful blooms, so choose the healthiest roses and care for them properly once they are in the ground.

Girl on Stone Ledge Next to Rose Bushes & Red Climbing Rose on Arched Trellis

How to Plant a Rose

You should also take care when planting your roses in order to give them the best possible start in the garden. The best time to plant the roses is in the early spring months, but after any danger of a hard freeze has gone. It is also essential that the roses get plenty of air circulation. Roses should not be planted in a very cramped space.

1. Full Sun (6+ hours of daily sun)

After you have chosen the best possible roses for your landscape, it is necessary they are planted in the proper location. Roses love lots of sunlight, so it is crucial to choose a location that gets at least six hours of sunlight every day. The more sunlight you can give your roses the better off they will be.

2. Prune, if Bare-Root

This step is not necessary for container-grown plants. If you purchased a bare-root rose, remove broken branches and trim all other branches to about half their length. This will prevent the rose from having top-heavy growth that the roots can’t support yet.

Pro Tip: Soak the roots of bare-root roses in water overnight before planting.

3. Prepare the Soil

Soil preparation is one of the most critical factors of all when it comes to planting roses and you’ll want to make sure the soil includes plenty of organic material. Adding quality compost, aged manure, peat moss or other organic matter will help to create the right environment and the right start for your roses.

Pro Tip: Sometimes rose stems are dipped in wax to hold in moisture and prevent the canes from drying out. There is no need to remove the wax or cut the branches off. The new buds will still emerge and the waxy coating should simply flake off or melt away over time.

4. Dig a Hole

The hole should be large enough to fit the roots (if bare-root/dormant) or root ball (if container-grown). Look for a swollen section where the branches meet the roots near the base. This is called a bud or graft union. If your rose has a graft union (not all roses will), then position the union according to this chart:

Northern U.S. Southern or Coastal U.S.
Always bury the union 2-4 inches below ground level. Always leave the union at or slightly above ground level.

Pro Tip: There is one exception to burying the graft union, which is the tree rose. The union will be atop the straight trunk and gives the rose its “tree” shape. Ignore the union and plant the top of the root ball level with the surrounding soil.

5. Water Regularly

It is also essential that the roses be carefully watered after they are planted. Water the roses deeply and thoroughly, and make sure that the roots are able to soak up plenty of water. The first couple of weeks following planting are vital to the success of the rose garden, and the area must be watered thoroughly and often. The time to water is when the top one inch of the soil around the plant is dry. The ground should then be watered until it is completely soaked. After the roses are established, the area should be soaked well every two weeks. Areas of the country where the climate is hot and dry may need to be watered more often.

Pro Tip: It is ideal to water roses in the early morning hours.

6. Apply Mulch

Spread a two or three inch (5-8cm) layer of wood chips or cocoa hulls around the base of your roses. Pull the mulch away from the base of the plant so it doesn’t rest directly against the plant stems. The mulch will prevent weeds and keep the moisture level consistent (less watering).

7. Fertilize

Once your newly transplanted rose produces its first flower, then you can apply a fertilizer that is specially blended for roses. Follow the rose plant food package’s instructions.

Pro Tip: It is okay to apply bone meal at any time because it will not “burn” the tender roots of a new rose.

Have you had success with growing roses? Please share a picture with us on our Facebook page, My Garden Life, or tag your photo with #MyGardenLife on Instagram.

Soil Pile on Tarp with Shovel and Watering Can & Freshly Planted Roses


  1. Carol

    My new rose bush had paper wrapped around it. Leave it or cut it off?

    • My Garden Life

      Hi Carol,
      If there are no instructions on the package or from the supplier to plant the rose with the paper wrapper on, it’s probably best to remove it. You don’t want anything interfering with the plant’s ability to freely grow roots or obtain water. It’s likely that paper would eventually break down from exposure to the elements, but it may not break down fast enough to prevent it from interfering with plant growth.


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