Everything Is Coming Up Roses

Success in growing the perfect rose depends on a few basic principles.  The best time to plant roses in Arkansas is in the fall after the first frost when the plant is completely dormant.  This early planting allows the roots to develop during the winter and the plant will be better established than a comparable spring-planted plant.  Unfortunately, roses are not always available at many locations in the fall.  If fall planting is not possible, plant in February or early March.  Planting later than April 1 is possible, but the plants must receive more care during the establishment period and the possibility of loss is greater.  Containerized plants may be planted safely at any time during the normal planting time or later during the growing season.

Rose beds or individual holes should be spaded to a depth of 12 to 16 inches.  Do this initial spading a month before the roses are to be planted? The addition of organic matter such as peat moss or compost may prove helpful if the soil is a heavy clay or a light sandy soil.  In a good garden soil that grows good vegetables or flowers, amending the soil with organic matter is usually not required.  While the planting site is being prepared, soak the roots of bare root plants in a pail of water.  Soak for 1 to 2 hours but never more than 6.  The hole for the plant should be dug at least 18 inches wide and 12 to 16 inches deep.  In the bottom of the hole a cone-shaped mound of soil should be made.  The mound should be high enough so that the bud union or knuckle on the rose stem is just at or slightly below the ground surface.  Fan the roots of the rose over the mound and then fill with additional soil until the hole is 3/4 full.  At this time firmly but carefully pack the soil around the roots of the plant. Make sure that the roots are not jammed into the hole with some of the ends pointed up.

After the soil has been firmed, fill the hole with water and allow it to soak into the soil.  After the soil has absorbed the water, finish filling the hole and check to make sure that the bud union is at the proper depth.  Mound soil 6-8 inches high over the canes.  Leave this mound intact until growth resumes in the spring.  When growth starts, remove the mound.  Pruning is not necessary on the shoots or roots of new plants unless the rose bush has been injured during handling.  If injury has occurred, the injured portion should be pruned off.

Container grown plants should be planted as described for bare root plants.  If the bud union is above the soil line of the container, position the plant so that the union is at the ground line.  If the bud union is not showing, plant the soil line of the container at the ground line.  Mounding soil over the canes of container grown plants is usually not required except for fall planting.

Roses usually have metal name tags attached to the canes by a wire.  These wires will eventually girdle and kill the cane if not removed.

The University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.  For more information regarding this or similar subjects please contact your local county Cooperative Extension Service.  For more information you can contact your local county extension service, you can also follow Sherri Sanders on Facebook @UAEX.WhiteCountyAgriculture.

Sherri Sanders
County Extension Agent – Agriculture

Chérie Bradley
Adm Spec II
White County CES
411 N Spruce St.
2nd Floor
Searcy AR 72143
Phone: 501-268-5394
FAX: 501-279-6247