The Q&A Archives: Planting Bare Root Roses

Question: I'm a novice gardener and have several bare root roses (shrubs and hybrid tea roses) some of which I've planted. Can you tell me is it okay to water them after they're planted in the ground, or do they need to go through a dormant phase without watering? Also, is it necessary to remove the leaves at this time (winter) to promote new growth? I've just learned that it's okay to add Epsom salt to my fertilizer mix. Your input would be appreciated.

Answer: It's really important to water newly transplanted shrubs and trees. Plant your roses so that the graft (bud union) is several inches above the soil level in a hole deep and wide enough to accommodate the root mass without crowding. Once planted, build a basin on top of the soil to hold water, then fill the basin several times to allow water to soak down and wet the entire root mass. Water faithfully once each week during the off-season, then as often as necessary during the growing season. You can remove the leaves now to promote new growth. Next December, force your roses into dormancy by picking off all the leaves. Prune in February, keeping the center of the plant open. Roses require a sunny site, so keep that in mind when you're deciding where to plant your new roses. Hope they bloom beautifully for you!

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