The Q&A Archives: Planting

Question: I'm not sure what is meant by Question Title

Answer: It is important to begin with healthy plants. If bare root, make sure the plant is still dormant and has not tried to grow prior to purchase. The canes should be firm and plump, the graft should be solid, and the buds should look good. If container grown, again the canes should look firm and smooth, the buds should be plump (or foliage should be healthy), the graft (if any) should be well formed.

Roses do best when planted in full sun all day long, in soil that is well drained (meaning not a low spot where water collects.) If you have heavy clay soil, consider a raised bed or planting on a slope to improve the drainage.

When you plant, loosen the soil over a wide area to encourage rooting. After planting, the most important thing is to water correctly. Keep the soil slightly damp like a wrung out sponge, not sopping wet and not dried out. It is better to water deeply less often than to sprinkle lightly every day. You want to water down to the deepest roots, not just dampen the surface.

Using an organic mulch over the root area will help keep the soil more evenly moist. It will also help feed the soil slowly over time as it breaks down. Top dressing with compost will help feed the soil as well. Ideally you would run some basic soil tests to check fertility and pH. Then add fertilizer and/or lime as indicated by the soil tests.

You should probably select roses that are considered winter hardy to least USDA winter hardiness 4. Your zip code places you in zone 5A, the coldest part of zone 5. Depending on your microclimate it could be as cold as zone 4, so that would be the more conservative approach. If planting roses considered hardy to zone 5, be sure to put them in a protected spot with shelter from winter winds and mulch well in the fall.

Own-root roses will have a better chance of surviving your winters, but if you plant grafted roses be sure to set the graft well below the soil surface. Also consider using some of the more aggressive winter protection methods for grafted roses and for climbers/ramblers.

I hope this helps.

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