The Q&A Archives: How To Plant And Care For A Rose Tree

Question: I just received a rose tree for Mother's Day and would like to know the proper way to plant and care for it. Should it be planted in the ground or in a Whiskey Barrel?

Answer: You can plant it in the ground or in a container. Note that because of their height, tree roses need special protection in your cold winters because of their exposure to wind and cold. Dig up tree roses and store them in a cool garage or basement. Or, dig only one side of the tree roses? roots so that it can lie down on its side. Secure it in place with stakes and cover the entire plant with soil and mulch.

As for planting, water the rose thoroughly the day before. Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball and the same depth. Mix a phosphorous source, such as bone meal, to promote bloom into the bottom of the hole. Set the root ball in and fill around it. Ensure that the rootball is planted level, or a little higher to allow for sinkage, with its depth in the original container. Mix plenty of organic matter, such as compost and peat moss, to the backfill. Water thoroughly and keep soil moist, but not wet, until root systems can establish.

As for care, roses need sun and nutrients, at least 6-8 hours of sun daily to bloom. Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium are the 3 major nutrients for all plants. (They correspond to the 3 numbers on fertilizer packages.) Nitrogen promotes growth of green leaves. Phosphorous is essential for blooms. Roses are heavy "feeders" during their bloom period. I suggest you apply a rose fertilizer. The second and third numbers on the package should be higher than the first. Or, roses benefit from applications of greensand, which contains potassium, and bone meal, which contains phosphorus. Both of these nutrients are important for flowering. The thing to avoid is feeding them with high-nitrogen fertilizer that will encourage foliage growth at the expense of flowers. Keep them consistently moist and mulch with 2-3 inches of compost to help maintain soil moisture. Rosarians I know fertilize their roses every 6 weeks during the blooming season.

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