I planted roses today in a new bed just outside our fenced backyard. I live on six acres in a farm and ranch area. I actually built the bed last year too late to plant bare root roses, so the bed was planted in mass with marigolds. Wow, it was beautiful. We used just over 120 plants to fill the bed.
This year I removed the ends of the bed and brought my granddad’s old tiller out of the barn and gave it a good tilling. The soil was full of dark matter and earthworms. That got me excited I can tell you.
I know most of you in suburban areas wouldn’t want to use cross ties for your raised beds. However, these work great on a large property in beds planted out of the “proper yard area”. For nicer areas, Home Depot and Lowes have all kinds of keystone and other landscaping materials for raised beds.
While many of the bare roots you will receive will have canes up to 16 inches long, I almost always cut these back to no longer than 8 inches. It’s true that you will have more growth immediately if you leave the canes longer. However, I’m more interested in growing roots first, roses later. Therefore, I prune mine back much shorter. I also remove any small canes and anything that is damaged or dead.
Prepare planting holes approximately 14″-20″ wide and 12″-18″ inches deep (or the depth of your improved soil if less than 18 inches). Once you have prepared the hole, place some of the soil mixture back into the planting hole forming a cone shaped mound which should approximate the conical shape of the rose roots. At this point I like to add my mycorrhizae (another blog to come at a later date.).
Gently move the soil you removed around the roots of the rose and give the soil a gentle (not hard) press. Next you will want to water the rose with a gentle flow of water to not only hydrate the new bush but to also make sure there are no air pockets in the new soil around the roots of the plant.
Finally, cover the canes for a week with damp mulch to keep the canes from drying out before new feeder roots develop.
Tip: Sometimes bare root roses will start to push out new growth during shipment. This is normal, especially in the months of March and April. If you cover this new growth with mulch it will usually tend to burn and die
once the mulch is removed. When I have plants that are already pushing out, I use a brown paper bag from the grocery store. Simply cut a circle the size of a silver dollar in the center of the bottom of the bag. Cut slits up the side of the bag about six inches long to be used as anchors. Turn the bag upside down over the rose and then anchor the bag with soil. The bag will keep moisture in. The hole in the top will allow air circulation and just enough light to harden off the tender growth. You can normally remove the bag after one week.
Final thought: Even if the new premature growth dies, the rose will push out another cane where this one originally formed. Just be sure to take a good pair of sharp pruners and “clip” the dead growth off at the cane. Do not twist it off as that could damage other immature bud eyes just beneath the surface of the cane.