Plant Wisely

Now there's no sense in carefully selecting and buying roses and then not planting them where they have the greatest chance of success. Roses are among the most widely adaptable and resilient of plants, yet to do their best a well-chosen site will make a great deal of difference.

  • Light - Roses need 8 or 10 hours of direct sun each day. Morning sun is essential, but light afternoon shade is tolerated and even beneficial in hot climates.

  • Air - Good air movement helps the dew and rain to dry quickly, thus discouraging disease. Too much wind, however, can damage foliage in the summer and canes in the winter. Protect rose plantings in windy areas by shielding with a building, wall, fence, windbreak, or hedge.

  • Drainage - Wet feet, especially in the winter, will be the death of roses. To check, dig a hole 18 inches deep and fill with water; it should empty within several hours. If another site is not available, improve drainage with tiling or raised beds.

  • Soil - Very few of us have the perfect loamy soil garden books so often recommended. Luckily, roses are tolerant, and all soil types can be readily improved with organic matter. Peat moss is most commonly available, but other excellent choices include compost, leaf mold, dehydrated cow manure, or shredded bark. Also, remove any large rocks down 18 to 24 inches deep.

  • Competition and hazards - Don't plant roses too near large trees or shrubs that will compete for light, water, and nutrients. Also avoid planting under eaves or gutters where bushes may be damaged by falling water, snow, or ice.

  • Access - Grow roses where you will see them every day. Not only will you enjoy them to their fullest, but you'll also take the best care of them. You'll notice the first sign of pests and be able to treat them effectively. Pruning and feeding won't be forgotten or ignored easily, either. Having water handy is a big help, too, as you don't want to be dragging miles of hose.

Successfully grown rose bushes will reward you year after year with their beautiful flowers. Carefully selecting, buying, choosing a site, and planting will go far in ensuring continued pleasure. The proper planting of roses (Also consult the American Rose Society: Planting) requires neither great gardening skill nor experience. Simply use a little common sense in your choice of location, follow the steps as outlined, and you will have given your roses as good a start in life as could be desired.


One thing to consider when building a rose bed is whether an elevated or ground level bed is desired. Because of soil conditions (layers of caliche and chalk rock) in this area, elevated beds are highly recommended. Among materials used in the construction of raised beds are brick, stone, 4 x 4's or landscape timbers.

See the special step by step process in rose bed preparation prepared by Ed Bradley.

Preparation of Site Area
Measure and mark the bed location. If the grass is good St. Augustine, cut away in squares and plant elsewhere or give to a neighbor. For Bermuda, an easier approach is to use a glyphosate herbicide such as Roundup or Finale. Two weeks after application of the glyphosate herbicide, the dead turf may be removed. The area will then be safe for planting.

Excavation and Elevation of Area
This depends on the type of roses that are to be planted.

Excavate to a depth of 10 to 12 inches and build up one timber for a total depth of 15 inches.

Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras, Floribundas, Old Garden Roses or Shrubs
Excavate to a depth of 10 to 12 inches and build up three timbers for a total depth of 22 inches.

Soil Preparation
If the soil in the bed site is a deep black clay or sandy loam, dig out to the depth previously mentioned. Using a basic mix of 1/3 excavated topsoil, 1/3 sharp (preferably Poteet red) sand, and 1/3 organic matter (compost, peat moss, manure, etc.); or purchase a good planting mix from your favorite nursery. As these ingredients are blended, return the mixture to the excavated area. Water bed area with a lawn sprinkler several times over a two week period so that bed materials will settle sufficiently.

If the excavated soil is made up of caliche and chalk rock, a commercially prepared soil is recommended to fill the bed. For a completed bed 15 feet long, 3 feet wide and 22 inches deep, three cubic yards of material would be needed. For a bed only 15 inches deep, two cubic yards would be needed.


When those new roses arrive in late January or early February, the planting site should be ready. Listed below are the five basic steps to follow when planting that new bare root rose.

  1. Dig hole big enough to spread entire root system out -- this would be about 20 inches square. Don't crowd roots. Mix soil from the hole with one to two gallons of Vermiculite. Make a mound of the soil mixture in the hole. Next, distribute one cup of Super Phosphate around the base of the mound.
  2. Place the bush on the mound or cone of soil and spread out the roots. Cut the ends of the root tips. This will stimulate the growth of feeder roots. Make sure the bud union is about two inches above ground level.
  3. Fill hole about half full of soil and soak with about two gallons of a root stimulator or starter solution. This will help eliminate any air pockets and stimulate growth of feeder roots.
  4. Fill in with the rest of the soil and again water thoroughly.
  5. Newly planted roses should be stabilized so they don't rock in the wind. Rocking back and forth will not allow the new bush to become established. You can use concrete reinforcing rods, wood stakes or plastic coated metal rods for stabilizing rose bushes.
  6. Mound soil up around canes to prevent them from drying.
  1. Dig hole and properly prepare your soil. A good basic planting mixture is 1/3 topsoil, 1/3 sharp sand and 1/3 organic matter (compost, peat moss, manure, etc.); or purchase a good planting mix from your favorite nursery. The size of the hole will vary depending on the size of the container. A square hole 20"x 20" (depth and width) is normally adequate. When a rose is growing in a container, the roots wrap around the pot. A square "hole" permits the roots to spread out and get better established.
  2. At the bottom of the hole put at least _ to 1 cup of Super Phosphate. Unlike planting a bare root rose, a mound is not needed in the planting hole for a potted rose.
  3. Make sure the bud union of the rose is at least 2 inches above ground level . There will be some settling of the bush and you need space for your summer mulch.
  4. Fill in around the rose with your prepared soil. Firm down, not stomp down. Water and let the soil settle. Fill the rest of the hole with the left over prepared soil. Water again with at least I to 2 gallons of water mixed with root stimulator or starter solution.
  5. Dependent on maturity of potted rose, stabilization may or may not be required. Young bushes will normally need some sort of support. You can use concrete reinforcing rods, redwood stakes or plastic coated metal rods for rose stabilization.
  6. You may feed new roses with a diluted feed. Usually, newly prepared soils have adequate nutrients to get the new rose through the first bloom cycle.