- Author: Polly Nelson
- Editor: Noni Todd
Bare Root Roses
By Polly Nelson UCCE Master Gardener
Hybrid Tea Rose: Mr. Lincoln
Planting Zone: All
Size: 2-6 feet
Bloom season: Spring through Fall
Exposure: Full sun, at least 6 hours per day
Pruning needs: Annually (December-January)
Water needs: Regular
Narrative: This is the month to buy and plant bare-root (BR) roses, the most economical way to purchase hybrid tea roses. BR (without soil around the roots) allows you to see the dormant plant's structure and root system before you plant. Buy a rose with 3-5 strong, plump canes (branches) with smooth bark, avoiding plants with shriveled, brown, or damaged canes. The roots should be light colored and symmetrically placed around the trunk.. Look for buds that are plump and brightly colored on the sides of the canes, not swollen. Examine the site of the graft union, it should be firm and solid.
Plant as soon as possible, ideally within a day of purchase. Pick a location that has at least six hours of sunlight and air circulation. Morning sunlight dries foliage and helps prevent powdery mildew. Roses like well-drained soil that is neutral or slightly acidic. Place the BR rose in a tub of water for 12-24 hours prior to planting to hydrate the roots. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the roots of the plant. Amend native soil with 1/3-1/2 organic material such as compost, add ½ cup super phosphate or bone meal to the bottom of the planting hole and mix thoroughly. Examine the canes and trim if needed to create a cane length of about six inches long, ideally with 3-5 buds. Place the plant in position over a cone-shaped mound of amended soil and spread the roots over the cone, then fill in with more amended soil so that the graft union is about an inch above the soil line. Press firmly to remove air pockets, but don't compact the soil. Create a water basin around the new BR rose slightly larger in diameter than the root system. Fill the basin with water, making sure the soil around the roots is wet. Add a 2-inch layer of mulch before the first blooms. After first blooms, the roots should be developed enough for feeding with a rose plant food.