Growing the Best Roses

Red roses on a bright blue skyBy Marjorie Harris & Karen York
Photo by Sergey A. Pristyazhnyuk/Fotolia

Roses are best planted in early spring or fall (though container-grown plants can cope with summer planting, too). They like rich, fertile, well-drained soil with lots of organic matter; they will also take slightly heavier clay soil than most plants.
PREPARE the planting bed by digging in well-rotted manure and compost to a depth of at least 12 inches. Don?t crowd roses?they need good air circulation to prevent disease. Plant hybrid teas and floribundas 18 to 36 inches apart (depending on how bushy the variety is); climbers five to 10 feet apart; shrub roses, whatever their mature height is; and miniatures 12 to 15 inches apart. Soak the roots of bare-root roses for about an hour before planting, and trim off any broken or mushy roots. Water container-grown roses well: never put a dry root ball in the ground.

DIG a generously wide hole, deep enough that the crown of the plant or graft union (the knobby bit at the base of the stems) is at least two inches below the soil level (in colder zones, it should go deeper?for example, six inches in Zone 3). BC rose breeder Brad Jalbert suggests adding a small handful of bone meal to the planting hole?don?t apply any other fertilizers.

  • For bare-root roses, make a mound at the bottom of the planting hole, set the plant on it and spread the roots over the mound. Backfill about two-thirds of the hole using soil amended with compost or well-rotted manure. Water well to make sure the soil settles around the roots, then top up with soil.
  • For container-grown plants, remove the pot (including fibre pots), make sure the root ball is moist and tease apart any tightly wound roots. Set the plant in the hole two inches below soil level and backfill as for bare-root roses.

WATER well and mulch. Keep the mulch a couple of inches away from the base of the plant or it can cause the bark to rot.