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Planting Bare Root Roses

10 easy steps to planting bare root roses.

Our bare root roses are available from November to March, they are dug from our garden centre sales beds and if you buy from our website they will be delivered out of a pot but well wrapped to keep the roots damp. We pot on over 8,000 of our bare root roses in 150 varieties each year so we certainly know a thing or two about them and that’s why you can be confident of receiving a top quality plant when you buy from either our website or in the nurseries at Groves in Bridport or Little Groves in Beaminster.

We advise that you plant your rose as soon as you receive it or if its winter and the ground is frozen unpack it and keep it in a container of slightly moist compost and then plant it as soon as conditions allow.

What you will need to plant your rose

·         Spade and fork

·         Large container of water

·         Well rotted manure/spent mushroom compost

·         bonemeal

·         RootGrow (mychorrizal funghi)

The 10 Easy Steps

We advise following these simple steps so that your new rose gets off to the best possible start and it will then give you years of pleasure

Step 1. Pop your rose in a container of water for about half an hour before planting to make sure the roots are nicely re-hydrated.

Step 2. Take your fork and dig the soil over in your selected spot (preferably a sunny aspect) and remove any weeds and stones so the roots can get away freely

Step 3. Dig a hole that is wide and deep enough to take the roots (approx. 40 cm wide and 60 cm deep)

Step 4. Take your fork and break up the soil at the base of the hole – this is important as it allows the roots to go deeper into the soil

Step 5. Add some well-rotted manure or spent mushroom compost to the bottom of your hole as the nutrients will help the rose establish more effectively.

Step 6. Take your rose from the water container and just sprinkle some Rootgrow over the roots or straight into the hole  Tip: If you sprinkle on the roots do it over the planting hole and any excess fungi will drop into the bottom of the hole.

Step 7. Place your rose in the centre of the hole and spread out the roots. Tip: By placing something like a bamboo cane horizontally across the top of the hole and making sure the graft union (swollen area between roots and stem) are just below the bamboo cane you can get the depth correct.

Step 8. Backfill the hole with the loose soil you removed to make the hole and add some bonemeal or Toprose so it gives the rose a feed when its starts to grow in spring.

Step 9. Now firm in with your feet to make sure there are no air pockets and that the rose is secure and add another layer of manure or mushroom compost.

Step 10. Give your rose a good watering.

Follow these easy steps and you should get a beautiful display of roses but they may struggle to establish if planted poorly,are provided with little aftercare or planted where an old rose was so if you are replacing old roses with new roses, ensure that you dig out the soil to a depth and width of 45cm (18in) and exchange it with soil from a different part of the garden

Bare root roses



Prune back in the first winter after planting. Do this in late winter or early spring. With all roses remove dead, damaged and weak growth, then:

  •  Hybrid tea (large-flowered): Prune the remaining strong stems hard back to 10-15cm (4-6in) from ground level
  •  Floribunda (cluster-flowered): Prune the remaining strong stems moderately hard back to about 15cm (6in) from ground level
  •  Ramblers and climbers: Prune remaining strong stems back to 30-40cm (1ft-15in) from ground level if not already pruned at the nursery
  •  Shrub and species roses: Leave remaining strong stems unpruned  

General care

  • Feeding: Apply a dressing of a general or rose fertiliser like Toprose at 100g per sq m (1½oz per sq yd), every spring.  If growth slows, repeat the fertiliser application in mid-summer
  • Mulching: Follow feeding by mulching with well-rotted stable manure, in a layer of up to 8cm (3in) deep. Alternatively, use well-rotted compost or chipped bark. Keep the mulch clear of the rose stems, leaving a 10cm (4in) gap between the mulch and stems
  • Watering: Water well in dry spells for at least two summers after planting

In subsequent years this programme of feeding and mulching can be repeated annually. Apply the fertiliser over the existing mulch, from where it will quickly find its way down to the roots, and then top up the mulch to maintain it at the original level.

Posted by Charlie Groves

Charlie is the manager at Groves Nurseries.  He is the 6th generation of C.W. Groves to run the garden centre. 

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